The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) is the most powerful body in cricket. India commands by far and away the largest market for the sport which in turn generates the largest revenues. Money is king. Ergo, the BCCI is king around cricket’s negotiating table.
As Lord Acton observed, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The BCCI thinks it is impervious to outside rules and can operate as it sees fit. Unfortunately for cricket, it rarely operates in a manner that benefits anything other than itself, with a refusal to tackle blatant conflicts of interest, conduct deep dives into match fixing or now, take the issue of doping seriously.
Conflicts of interest have always existed in Indian cricket and it just seems to be something that it cannot understand. Is it something that India understands, even, more broadly? Not just in cricket are people put in positions of power and authority who stand to directly gain from their positions.
N Srinivasan is perhaps the finest example of the genre. The former BCCI supremo and cement mogul owned the now defunct Indian Premier League franchise, Chennai Super Kings. CSK are no more, disqualified after the upturning of match fixing allegations against the franchise. Srinivasan though, was at one point head of one of the BCCI’s major sponsors, then head of the BCCI, then owner of one Indian cricket’s major franchises.
It was Srinivasan’s son in law who was pushed under the bus in the CSK fall out. The BCCI swept under the carpet the allegations against Srinivasan, refused to heed Supreme Court orders and even pushed Srinivasan on to become president of the ICC (International Cricket Council), the supposed ruling body of cricket. Indian paw prints are visible all over the plush Dubai headquarters of the ICC.
Most damaging in the CSK case was the involvement of then India captain and still ODI/T20 wicketkeeper, MS Dhoni. Match fixing took place, but the captain knew nothing. Nor the owner. Obviously.
It should be with some outrage then, that the news of the BCCI’s approach to doping arrived this week. “BCCI is an autonomous sports organisation affiliated to the International Cricket Council, which governs the game of cricket globally,” Rahul Johri, BCCI’s CEO, said. “Accordingly, BCCI is required to operate within the rules and regulations set by the ICC.
“It is clear that BCCI already has a robust dope testing mechanism which is employed for both during competitions and out of competitions. It is also relevant to mention here that BCCI is not a National Sports Federation. Accordingly, NADA does not have jurisdiction to conduct dope testing of Indian cricketers in any domestic competition or international event organised by or under the aegis of BCCI.”
NADA is the National Anti Doping Agency in India and falls under the purview of WADA, the World Anti Doping Agency.
Why would India adhere to this anyway? The example set by the Olympics and its treatment of Russia suggests that doping isn’t an issue that is taken particularly seriously. It’s certainly not something that can’t be remedied with a hefty fine. The BCCI, after all, has lots of money, so what’s the big deal?
Of course, the integrity of the sport of cricket is in question. The BCCI, perhaps the most corrupt sporting body in the world (although there is some stiff, stiff competition for this title from FIFA and the International Olympic Committee) has shown itself utterly incapable of dealing with major issues such as conflicts of interest and match fixing.
The treatment of star players is the major issue here. There was no proper enquiry into Dhoni’s behaviour. Of course, he may well be innocent, but where’s the transparency? Ironically, it is something that the BCCI likes to look straight through.
So, with its doping stance now laid forth, what if Virat Kohli, for example, fails one of the BCCI’s in-house tests? I’m not for one second suggesting that Kohli is on the juice, but what if it were discovered that he is? Would the BCCI really make it public knowledge and ban one of their star players?
As we’ve seen before, we already know the answer to that question.
By Miles Reucroft