The ACB yesterday released the findings of the Anti Doping Committee in the case of Shane Warne. Such a rare act of openness on the part of the ACB should be applauded.
Having read the report and also having has some excellent discussion with some fellow cricket fans, I wish to make some more points about Warne, some which are contradictory to points that I made in a previous article.
When I penned that previous piece, my wounds were still raw. I didn’t start the article with the intention of defending Warne, but as I wrote, the hurt of an Australian being denied the right to wrest back the World record and the panic of loosing Warne from our campaigns for the next twelve months, I lost the plot. I particularly wish to revise my remarks about Warnie being the “fall guy”. That mainly came out of my annoyance at jerks like Coles and Pound making remarks which were designed to use their standing to influence the judicial system which is in place. But that should not detract from the fact that, Warne got what he deserved.
My disappointment that Warne may not now take 500 wickets and the world record, and that Australia’s dominance in Test cricket may be detrimentally affected should not cloud the real issues. The fact is that Warne did not pay enough attention to the rules set before him by the very establishment which is responsible for his opportunities and great wealth. Warne should remember that neither cricket not the ACB owes him anything. The game of cricket has made Warne rich and famous and with that comes responsibility. I don’t think anyone is calling Warne a drug cheat. However, he does have to take responsibility for his own negligence. Perhaps if others hadn’t covered for him on previous occasions (such as the ACB covering up the pitch reports scandals and channel nine’s farcical attempt for Joe the cameraman to take responsibility for Warne’s unsavoury behaviour), Warne would have become a more mature, responsible person.
Over the years, Warne has given a lot to cricket. Kids are now bowling leg spin in the play ground again. Warne is one of the reasons why Test cricket has enjoyed a resurgence in the past decade. But that “giving” has merely been a bi-product Warne’s incredible natural ability and his desire to play cricket. Warne has given very little, or nothing back to the game in terms of personal sacrifice. I was thinking about Warne’s life as a soap opera and made a list of his more major “incidents” which have been negative for Warne and cricket:
1. I think the biggest is the pitch reports for John the bookmaker
2. The fine for verbally abusing fans in South Africa
3. The phone sex scandal
4. The “Joe the cameraman” incident. The on field incident was fairly minor but the farcical cover up was the poor thing. The ridiculous things is 99% of people firmly believe that it was Warnie anyway. All Warne had to do was say “Sorry Scotty, that was a very poor comment to make in the heat of the moment. I actually think you are a fine bowler with a fine career in front of you”. (Still lying but it’s good lying (he he))
5. Pinching the camera from the kids in NZ when they busted him smoking when he was being paid $250k to give up.
6. And now the drug thing
I’m sure that I’ve missed some things, not to mention the many cases of unattractive behaviour in the way of crass and ugly “send offs” and dancing on balconies, etc.
Sometimes I lose sight of these important issues in the excitement of statistics and the game itself. Warne has been an incredible bowler and player but I don’t think that he is a person to respect or admire – and that is more important.
Perhaps, the acid test is to ask yourself “Would the Don have been proud of Warne?” I think not.
So enough of Warnie – not another word about him – we have a very good World Cup to watch.
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My paraphrase of the findings of the committee are below or you can get the full report here.
1. Warne took a diuretic. That is not in dispute. Warne admits to it. The number he took is not known. Warne’s evidence was vague and inconsistent (and he is a known liar (I added that bit)).
2. The committee states that the diuretic could not have enhanced Warne’s performance. In fact, it may have been detrimental if it caused him to be dehydrated.
3. There is no evidence or suspicion that Warne had used steroids and was actively using the diuretic as a masking agent. His shoulder had healed within normal parameters for the type of injury and there would be no benefit to a spin bowler taking steroids.
4. The committee could not be certain that Warne had not taken steroids due to the presence of the banned diuretic – that is the point its inclusion on the banned substances list.
5. Warne is sent material on banned drugs annually (as are all ACB contracted players). This includes a list of banned substances and hotlines to call for advise. Warne had disregarded these.
6. Warne attended sessions held by the ACB for the players where the subject of avoiding banned substances was covered. Warne admitted that he didn’t listen to these.
7. Warne attempted to have the charge dropped under the grounds of exceptional circumstances – he didn’t know what he was taking – it was a mistake. The board decided that exceptional ignorance does not constitute an exceptional excuse. Warne had resources at his disposal to avoid taking banned drugs and chose not to use them.
8. Warne’s sentence was reduced from the normal 24 months as he had not intended to be a drug cheat – he had not taken drugs with the deliberate intention of improving his performance, nor would those drugs have had that effect.