India's cricketers came under sharp criticism from sports medicine experts for refusing to sign an anti-doping clause. All felt the arguments put forward for not signing the WADA code are "silly and absurd".
The experts said there is no justification for the Board of Control for Cricket in India and its players to reject the code, which is accepted by international sports bodies.
"It is ignorance of the WADA system which probably has led to such a decision. The BCCI and the cricketers have no idea about the rules and regulations and that is why they have created such a situation," Dr Manish Chand, Director of Dope Control for the 2010 Commonwealth Games said on Tuesday.
Other sports medicines experts also ridiculed the BCCI for putting up "absolutely silly reasons" for not signing the 'Whereabouts Requirement' clause, which makes it mandatory for sportspersons to disclose their location three months in advance for out-of-competition dope tests.
While Dr P S N Chandran, a leading sports medicine expert is involved with the Sports Authority of India's anti-doping program, termed the cricketers' decision as a "virtual revolt", another expert, Jaspal S Sandhu, said the BCCI's reasoning is absurd.
Dr Chand said there is no reason for the BCCI to not accept the WADA code, particularly after the ICC has signed it.
"Somebody should educate the BCCI and the players about how the WADA system works. There cannot be an exception for cricketers only. Top sportspersons the world over have signed it and the purpose is only to make the sport dope-free. When so many federations have signed, what is the BCCI's problem?" he asked.
Chandran was more scathing in his criticism, saying Indian cricketers are virtual non-entities compared to great sportsmen who have willingly signed the code.
"Are our cricketers bigger than so many great sportspersons the world over who have signed this code? I think it is just an issue of ignorance on part of the players," he said.
Chandran said it was "surprising and strange" that the BCCI was encouraging its players to revolt against the code after having allowed the ICC to sign it.
"This itself shows that the BCCI encourages indiscipline. The ICC signed this code long time back, what was the BCCI doing? Why was it sleeping over this matter till the expiry of the deadline for players?" he reasoned.
"It is foolish to expect that the WADA will make exemptions only for Indian cricketers. The players should have first signed the clause and then tried to put across their point to the ICC and the WADA. By not doing so, they have conveyed a wrong message," Chandran said.
"The arguments put forward by the BCCI are absolutely silly and this ignorance should not be allowed to spread," he asserted.
Chandran reckoned that cricketers will have no option but to fall in line eventually.
"The only that can happen otherwise is that the ICC will be forced to snap the agreement with WADA if it cannot ensure compliance. The WADA has a provision to review its code every year. The ICC can take this matter up but I think it is unlikely that this clause would be changed only for cricketers," he said.
Prof Jaspal S Sandhu, Executive Board member of the Asian Federation of Sports Medicine, said that the cricketers' claim that the clause poses security risk does not hold water.
"This is absurd. Whatever they share will remain strictly confidential and beyond the reach of people other than who are concerned with it. Where does this question of security risk come from?" asked Sandhu, who is also the Dean, Faculty of Sports Medicine at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.
"I'm sorry, but the cricketers have no choice at all but to fall in line and sign it. International Football Federation (FIFA) had problems with it but they still had to sign and the same is going to happen with the cricketers," said Sandhu.
"What surprises me is when sportspersons of higher stature can sign it without a fuss what makes the Indian cricketers so reluctant?" asked Sandhu, former president of the Indian Association of Sports Medicine.
The Indian cricketers on Sunday refused to sign the clause, claiming it infringes on their privacy and puts their security at risk. The BCCI backed the players at an emergency Working Committee meeting in Mumbai and asked the ICC to renegotiate the clause with WADA.
Sports Minister M S Gill opposed the BCCI's stand and said the players should fall in line. His view was supported by Olympic Council of Asia Secretary General Randhir Singh and a host of other sports administrators and Olympians.
The BCCI, however, insists it will stick to its stand on the vexed issue. The matter will now be discussed at the ICC's Executive Board meeting, the date of which is still not known.