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Dope saga turns murky: ‘Prithvi Shaw never approached physio’

11-08-201911-08-2019 14:46:20 IST
2019-08-11T09:16:20.383Z11-08-2019 2019-08-11T09:16:06.961Z - - 13-12-2019

Dope saga turns murky: ‘Prithvi Shaw never approached physio’

The controversy around promising Indian cricketer Prithvi Shaw’s dope test is becoming murkier by the day. New revelations by Mumbai team coach and physiotherapist with their version of ‘what really happened’ are raising question marks over the talented Indian Test opener’s claims that he inadvertently consumed cough syrup that contained ‘terbutaline’ which was among the banned substances.

The BCCI has recently banned Prithvi Shaw from all forms of competitive cricket for failing the dope test. A urine sample of the young cricketer during the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament tested positive, leading to a backdated ban that will keep him out of the game till November 15th. Announcing this decision then, the BCCI in a press release stated that “Shaw had inadvertently ingested a prohibited substance, which can be commonly found in cough syrups.”

This kicked up a big storm with many former players criticizing the BCCI’s inept handling of the case and thereby jeopardizing a young, promising cricketer’s ‘exciting career’ that is just beginning to take off in style.

But a Times of India report, quoting Mumbai team coach Vinayak Samant and physio Deep Tomar, seeks to contradict what Shaw and the BCCI press release have claimed as the reason.

The duo claim that Prithvi Shaw did not complain of ‘cough’ or ‘cold’ at any stage during the tournament. The two discharged their duties for the Mumbai team that Shaw was part of during the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament in February this year.

According to the newspaper, this is what Samant and Tomar said: “He had a slight fever. But there were no symptoms of cough or cold. Neither did he approach us with any complaints, nor did he ask for remedy. We were available at all times.”

Mumbai Team manager Ganesh Iyer, who was with the contingent in Indore during the tournament, echoed the same. He said that Shaw “did not approach him” either. “I notice he had some cold. But he did not come and tell me anything.”

The news report seeks to insinuate that it is hard to fathom the reason behind Shaw’s decision to step out of the team hotel and consume cough syrup bought over the counter. The report points to the fact that by then Prithvi Shaw had already played for India and every cricketer representing the country is adequately educated and trained about what to consume and what to avoid.

The BCCI, in its report, quoted Shaw to suggest that the young opening batsman ‘consulted his father’ and based on his advice, he obtained the cough syrup which the chemist promised would provide ‘immediate relief’.

The manner in which the news report counters this version is raising new suspicions over the entire episode. It says that Shaw was hardly in touch with his father. He is known to be close to his guardian and Shiv Sena MLA from Mumbai Sanjay Potnis and has been living at the latter’s home for the last 10 years. More importantly, Shaw ‘chose to speak to his father’ even when there was a doctor in the same hotel.

Moreover, the BCCI report claimed that Shaw “does not recollect the brand name of the cough syrup he consumed. However, it also adds in the same breath that Shaw acknowledges “many cough syrups available over the counter contain the banned substance terbutaline.”

This is where it turns out to be the ‘mother of all doubts’: What made Shaw consume a cough syrup while being aware of the grave risks involved in it? Was it innocence, ignorance or the typical callousness of a 19-year-old? Or is there anything more to it than meets the eye?

This is certainly not good news for Indian cricket and the only ones who can clear the air are the BCCI and its anti-doping wing head Abhijit Salvi.

-Durga Prasad Kanamaluru



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