New chapter: Indians undergo drug test in New Zealand

Published: Friday, January 10, 2003, 21:44 [IST]
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Auckland: Marking a new chapter in Indian cricket history, all the 15 members of the Indian squad for the World Cup underwent a dope test on Friday for the first time ever. A unit of New Zealand Drug Testing Agency, a government-backed institute, arrived at the team hotel this morning and took urine sample of all cricketers, an exercise, which lasted a good two hours. The team management took care to maintain extreme secrecy about the tests, lest media gets a hint of it and there is unnecessary speculation.

According to sources, the urine samples are now being sent to Sydney where an International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved drug test laboratory will examine it before conveying the results in 10 days time. The results of the test, according to sources, would only be conveyed to team's physio Andrew Leipus and no one else would get a whiff of it. "The entire methodology of the drug-testing unit was impressive - the way they went about the task, carefully putting the stickers, rechecking it and then winding up the operation," said a cricketer who was one of the 15 to undergo test.

The sources said there would be attempts to have another test conducted on cricketers once they return to India. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is contemplating the move even though cricketers are exasperated at the very thought of flying from different nooks and corners of the country to assemble at a venue and have another dope test conducted on them. The Indian Board gave a go-ahead for conducting the test as a precautionary measure since drug testing will be mandatory during the World Cup because of government regulations in South Africa.

Cricketers, by and large, were relaxed and happy at the thought that the procedure was over. "It would now end unnecessary speculation as there has been a stream of calls coming from India," said the cricketer. The cost of having the test conducted is being borne by the Indian Board with no strain being put on the team. Only four countries - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England - have a regular doping policy. The rest, accordingly, have been warned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to be alert of the dangers ahead in South Africa.

The Indian Board was given a list of banned substances by the ICC in August last. The 15 cricketers who have been named in the squad and were dope tested on Friday are: Saurav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Dinesh Mongia, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan, Sanjay Bangar and Parthiv Patel.

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