Dr. Geethanjana Mendis who heads the Sports Medicine Unit of the Ministry of Sports sounded a stern warning to those cricketers who are on the wrong path to success. He said though cricket was not so maligned like some other sports where the drug abuse was concerned they have a tab on some players who are suspected to be in the business and are hoping to close in on them very soon.Dr. Mendis’ department which has come under tremendous pressure after six Sri Lankan international level sportsmen were tested positive for using banned drugs during a short phase of three weeks.
Dr. Mendis further told the Sunday Times that Sri Lanka as a sporting nation is committed to follow the laws of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) on banned substances.
“All the coaches have been well informed of the laws and rules of WADA. Under any circumstance it is the responsibility of the coach to follow the behaviors of his players. So the ultimate responsibility comes under the coach,” Dr. Mendis said. Anti doping took a different twist when Sri Lanka cricket opener Upul Tharanga became the country’s third victim for usage of banned substances.
He was tested positive for using Prednisolone at the recently concluded Cricket World Cup tournament where he was in good form for Sri Lanka.
Before Tharanga, boxer Manju Wanniarachchi was stripped off his gold medal which he won at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi after both urine samples tested positive for banned drug usage.
The second sportsman to come under the drug cloud was weightlifter Chinthana Geethal Vidanage, whose urine samples taken at the Asian Games in China is said to have contained banned substances.
“The International Cricket Council (ICC) has permitted the WADA to conduct anti doping tests long time ago. Since cricket is not direct contact sport or an energy wasting game as boxing, rugby and weightlifting we did not take things seriously. But after the recent incident of Tharanga we are compelled to include cricket in the list. Though it is not said we have identified a few cricketers whom we suspect to be taking performance enhancing substances,” Dr. Mendis revealed.
On Thursday the Sports Ministry integrated inquiry on cricketer Tharanga who is alleged to have been tested positive for drug usage was held at the Ministry premises.
Tharanga who was accompanied by his lawyer Dinal Philips answering a three-member inquiry panel appointed by the Sports Minister had rejected the claims that he took any performance enhancing substances knowingly.. Tharanga had said that he took the prescriptions given by a well known doctor who had treated many of the cricketers of the Sri Lankan national pool as well as international players of other countries.
Subsequently Minister of Sports, Mahindananda Aluthgamage speaking to BBC Sandeshaya radio programme on Wednesday had admitted that Tharanga was treated by the President’s physician Dr. Eliyantha White.
By Friday three more sportsmen joined in the already appalling Sri Lankan sports arena. These three rugby players – Saliya Kumara, Keith Gurusinghe and Eranga Swarnatilleke who represented Sri Lanka during the recently concluded Asian5Nations rugby tournament have been tested positive for using a banned substance listed by the WADA.
However when the Sunday Times contacted one of the three players who are alleged under the anti-doping clout said that they were unaware if they committed a mistake. “All the players were given a similar brand of supplementary approved by our trainers. Other than that none of us used anything else. We were aware that the supplement we took was not in the lists of WADA but in the 2010 roll the supplement has been included”.