Thatscricket - News - Gaekwad to sue magazine on drug allegations
Published: Wednesday, July 4, 2001, 19:33 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
BCCI rubbishes report on drug issue
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New Delhi: Indian cricket, barely recovered from a match-fixing scandal, was thrown into turmoil on Wednesday as allegations over the use of illegal drugs by players threatened to end up in court.Former Indian coach A Gaekwad said he would sue a weekly magazine for quoting him as saying that Indian cricketers, including star batsman Sachin Tendulkar, used performance-enhancing drugs.The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) backed Gaekwad's legal action against "Outlook" magazine, which said it stood by the story.Outlook, whose investigations in 1997 on cricket corruption opened a can of worms, alleged in its latest issue that Indian players took drugs and used an interview with Gaekwad to back its claims.The magazine quoted Gaekwad as saying that players like Ajit Agarkar, Javagal Srinath, Rahul Dravid and even Tendulkar may have boosted their strength by taking performance-enhancing drugs."There has to be a level playing field. Like Sachin is definitely talented, but that extra dose of steroid helps him hit the ball with greater punch," Gaekwad was quoted as saying. "So, if you inject Sachin with muscle-strengthening drugs, then its not fair."Gaekwad, a former Test cricketer whose three-year stint as coach included the World Cup in 1999, said his quotes had been twisted out of context."I generally talked about energy-replacement drinks which, in any case, are taken on the field in full public view," a livid Gaekwad told AFP."At no point did I mention the use of performance-enhancing drugs. At one point in the interview, they have rightly quoted me as saying the players have become health conscious."Then, how could I also have spoken about an unhealthy practice?" he said.Gaekwad said his lawyers were expected to file legal action against the magazine in the "next few days".The present Indian team management, on a tour of Zimbabwe, jumped to the defence of the cricketers."I can state categorically these players do not take drugs of any performance-enhancing type," manager Chetan Chauhan told an Indian news agency in Harare."They may take boosts like energizer and other things but these were taken even in my time," said the former opening batsman who played 40 Tests in the 1970s and 80s."The team has been upset by the allegations which we deny completely," Chauhan said.BCCI secretary Jayawant Lele was equally furious and promised Gaekwad every help in his legal action against the magazine. "It is time someone goes to court against publishing such nonsense," the outspoken Lele said.Asked whether the Indian players ever used drugs, Lele said, "Everyone knows they are using cortizone injections which are not steroids, but only pain-killers."The controversy erupted just two days after BCCI president A C Muthiah claimed that Indian cricket was back on the rails after the match-fixing scandal, which saw a life ban imposed on former captain Mohammed Azharuddin and five-year bans on Test stars Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar.The International Cricket Council's anti-corruption report, released in May, hinted that the use of drugs could be widespread in the game."We've also received reports about baggage and equipment on tour being used to facilitate the movements of unlawful drugs," the ICC's anti-corruption chief Paul Condon said in his report.