WADA POWs: The Battle Between the Tiger and the Camel

Chandra Jayaramakrishnan@@chandra_251086Correspondent INovember 1, 2009

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 17: John Fahey of Australia, the newly elected president of the World Anti Doping Agency, gives a news conference following his election at the World Conference on Doping in Sport on November 17, 2007 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

“Wherever there is autocracy, there are dissenters asking for democratic rights. Where there is capitalism, socialists will rise to oppose it.” – Ramachandra Guha

It is a funny world in which we live. Believe me, a very funny one. This is a world in which a solution to a problem is another problem in itself, yet, we’re surviving.

The world is going through a period in which every individual is pondering over why economists failed to spot the problems that would eventually lead to the financial crisis we find ourselves in. Some questioned their ability, some questioned economics itself.

When one lamented “the profession’s blindness to the very possibility of catastrophic failures in a market economy,” a curious capitalist, in another world all together, was counting bills that amounted to sums greater than the organization to which he was affiliated possessed.

When one spoke economics, the other raised the issue of freakonomics. When one was trying to restore his shaken faith in economics, the other was getting ready for an invasion that would invade realms dominated by Imperialists.

The Tiger wanting to eat the Camel threatens to become a central metaphor these days. Being at loggerheads over the WADA Whereabouts Clause issue, this would appear to be the optimal moment to strike a dramatic initiative. This would also make good fiction wouldn’t it?

The current odious regime of the Tiger has gone to the extent to question world authorities, in their unstated attitude: What right do you have imposing your paradigm on us? Perhaps I’m nostalgic for a bygone era, where all was fair in glove and war. And I’m not referring to squash balls here.

A disconnect between the Camel’s global ambitions and its available resources, which is no match to the Tiger’s, has probably undermined its strength. Since the start of the IPL, the Camel has been even more tightly tethered to the Tiger than it was earlier.

What was once the Imperial Cricket Council, days when England, Australia and South Africa were the only countries that had the power to take decisions, ceases to exist. The Imperialist’s myopic self-interest, over the years, could be yet another cause for its inability to dominate.

A few voices said that the Tiger was striving to buff away the patina of Englishness in the game, an anti-colonial sentiment that most of us consider outdated. Yet, these voices claim that such feelings are still mordant around the subcontinent. Like it or not, the Tiger’s new found ascendancy remains precarious.  

Figuring out the story of when it all began is like assembling a huge, complicated jigsaw puzzle that has lost most of its pieces.

But that isn’t where the fulcrum of the problem lies. It lies in the hands of the curious capitalist I’d referred to earlier—a group of individuals who’d probably never heard of The Great Depression. These capitalists have ended up becoming an important prop to the bubble-prone BCCI. In the end, it was a shame it had to happen the way it did.

WADA’s Whereabouts clause requires athletes to select one hour per day, seven days a week (modified from five on January 1, 2009) to be available for no-notice drug tests. The move received commendable vocal support from sporting organizations and athletes like Roger Federer, but faced opposition from the likes of FIFA, UEFA, and our own BCCI.

The Tiger expressed security concerns over the players revealing their locations, and the players themselves feeling that it would intrude into their privacy-a very logical statement provided Roger Federer has never come across the word encroachment.     

To add to the Camel’s unrelenting drumbeat of bad news, other cricketing boards found the Tiger’s reasoning behind opposing the clause sensible and voiced their own concerns over it. That zeroes down to getting run out off a free hit. With hopes of the sport entering the Commonwealth games, and possibly, in the long run the Olympics, the Camel is left to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea.  

If in case the Indian cricketers are successful in paving an inert path for this clause, what message would it send to other Indian athletes who abide by WADA regulations without batting an eyelid?

As it is, the BCCI’s power has dominated debates for years together with the non-cricketing athletes from India earning pennies when compared to the stardom enjoyed by Dhoni and his boys. Such a move would only add insult to injury, making the other athletes seem like WADA POWs (for all vada pav lovers, let me assure you that I absolutely adore the snack too. I just thought this would fit in well here).  

The multitude of challenges has been unleashed, clearly handicapping the Camel by removing its hump. But as mentioned earlier, for all those who love the game and share the ambition of seeing the sport go global, the Camel must defeat the Tiger.

It is a case of David and Goliath, if I can jokingly magnify and diminish their images to that extent. The consequences of opposing the WADA will not be too pleasant if we as a community remain ambitious with respect to cricket entering the avenues of the Olympics and the Commonwealth games.     

On a serious note, this proves to be an issue where the Tiger, with its own internal ambitions through the IPL and come what else may, and the Camel need to work in tandem towards a solution that wouldn’t hinder the sport’s global ambitions. With the International Olympics Committee funding 50 percent of the Swiss based WADA’s expenditures, it wouldn’t be a bad idea, on a lighter vein, for the BCCI to undertake the entire funding and dictate terms. No one will dare question their financial sources’ “whereabouts.”  

Jokes apart, this calls for unity. The WADA issue is a microcosm of the broader issues that will arise in the future. A thorough clearing of the air will help discredit the idea that the Tiger will continue to dictate terms owing to the financial backing it receives. One can question the potential perils of the Camel’s over reliance on the Tiger to sort out trivial issues, and vice versa.

The truth will be less sensational and more unsettling, but ultimately one that the cricketing world will have to accept. But at least, it could potentially lead the issue into a creative stalemate that could prevent things from getting worse—both of them slouching towards catatonia.

This is where the other cricketing boards have a key role to play, by laying an emphasis on the future of the sport and its ambitions. There would be no surprise if there is a cascade of cries from the subcontinent pertaining to security concerns , but we’ve seen and known the sporting world enough to understand that security is the most over-used and least understood terminology around—similarly so with cultural elitism.  

En route to what will be one of the more crucial decisions made by the governing bodies, it would prove essential for the players and the officials to pause and ponder over the tangled issue into which the sport would wind itself if the cricket isn’t the winner.

The Tiger and the Camel, for once, need to be predators together and form an amorphous construct to munch away any remains of WADA POWs.