Doping: Holding blames it on too much cricket

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Having never heard of cricketers taking drugs to enhance performance in his playing days, Michael Holding says the shocking revelations of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif testing positive for nandrolone is an indication that packed schedules have put the players - especially fast bowlers - under 'too much pressure'.

''Personally, I believe there is too much pressure on modern-day players and especially on the fast bowlers - only Brett Lee manages to stay fit for any length of time, while Shoaib has missed as many Tests as he has played,'' Holding told to a cricket website in an interview.

''In my playing days, I never heard of any fast bowler ever taking steroids. But these days they have to constantly worry about what's happening tomorrow, and next week, and next month and the next tour. There's too much work,'' the former West Indies captain added.

Holding said burn-out was a major issue today and echoing Federation of International Cricketers Association's views, the former West Indian star warned players might be tempted to abuse drugs to bear with the tough schedules.

''The amount of cricket being played increases the risk of injury, and so perhaps the temptation to use drugs increases as well. But the ICC need to be more proactive. They probably don't want to tread on people's toes by introducing their own testing on top of that conducted by their member countries,'' he said.

The former Windies pacer said cricketers who may be taking drugs were not trying to enhance performance but only making an effort to stay fit as back-to-back matches are taking a toll on their fitness.

''I don't think necessarily that when these guys are taking steroids, or Nandrolone, that they are trying to become new Atlases.

They are just trying to strengthen their bodies,'' he said.

Holding said even those who admitted to drug abuse never did it for improving their performance but only to feel better before a game, which, according to him was nothing wrong.

''Of course I've heard of people taking things like marijuana and smoking stuff, but I don't think they count as performance-enhancing. But those guys never said it helped them, it just made them feel better. It's a personal thing about an individual's attitude to the game,'' he explained.


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