Drug abuse not a threat in cricket: Atherton

Published: Sunday, June 25, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Dismissing Federation of International Cricketers' Association (FICA) President Tim May's warning that players may turn to drugs to cope with gruelling schedules, former England captain Michael Atherton said the threat was non-existent as routine tests make it impossible for them to take any such step.

''Given that international players are routinely drug-tested, it would be a foolish player indeed who sought to prove the validity of May's argument. Shane Warne, banned from the last World Cup after failing a drugs test, should know,'' Atherton wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph.

Atherton said the though May's comments highlighted the growing concerns over the issue of player burn-out but were too extreme to be considered a future possibility.

''Nevertheless, May's comments highlight the concern that many players have over scheduling,'' he said.

Describing England's cricket schedule as the best in the world, Atherton said Andrew Flintoff and his team could not claim to be overplayed as the country's cricket board had done a reasonably good job in making a manageble international schedule.

''A look at the facts would suggest that the ECB have got things spot on. England, for example, between June 2005 and June 2006, played 14 Tests and were scheduled to play 27 ODIs, both within the guidelines set by FICA. Australia, on the other hand, played more than 15 Tests, and India played more than 30 ODIs,'' he said.

Criticising the scheduling of the Champions Trophy this year, the former captain said including the tournament in the international calender just before the World Cup defied logic.

''There is rather a lack of logic, of scheduling the Champions Trophy so soon before the World Cup,'' he said.

He also said May had a genuine point in calling for the ICC to put some check on the tournaments being organised apart from those scheduled in the Future Tour Programme (FTP).

''Where May would seem to have a legitimate complaint is that the Future Tours Programme does not prevent administrators organising spurious one-day money-making tournaments on top of the officially sanctioned games,'' Atherton said.

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