The Case of Mr. Prithvi Shaw

The Board of Control for Cricket in India [BCCI] has adopted Anti-Doping Rules [BCCI ADR] that implement the mandatory requirements of the World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] Code in Indian Cricket. BCCI ADR, 2019 applied to the issue.

Mr. Shaw consumed a cough syrup for a couple of days before he played the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Match, Mumbai v. Sikkim, 21.02.2019. A urine sample was collected from him as part of an In-Competition Doping Control Test immediately after the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Match, Mumbai v. Punjab, 22.02.2019. This was the first occasion on which Mr. Shaw had been tested by BCCI.

On 16.07.2019, a prohibited substance, terbutaline, was found in the urine sample. Mr. Shaw was charged with the commission of a strict liability offence, an ADR violation [ADRV] under Article 2.1, BCCI ADR. He was provisionally suspended pending determination of the charge.

Mr. Shaw promptly admitted the ADRV but asserted that it was inadvertent, being caused by his ingestion of medication that had been recommended to him by a pharmacist to treat a cough and cold. He did not recall the brand name of the cough syrup and did not retain the bottle after use. He pointed out that many cough syrups that are available over the counter in pharmacies in India contain terbutaline: Amidryl-AT, Bronchoslovin, Broncorex, Estalin Expectorant, Ledecon, Mucorid, Ocrox-T, Resporex-BR, Siokof, Trustyl, Tuspel Plus.

Even in cases of inadvertent use, an athlete’s personal responsibility will usually result in a conclusion that there has been some degree of fault or negligence. Mr. Shaw a) did not inform the pharmacist that he was subject to BCCI ADR; b) did not ask the pharmacist to confirm specifically that the medication did not contain prohibited substances; c) did not check himself i) by conducting a research or ii) by calling BCCI’s Anti-Doping Helpline [+91 9136694499/ +91 9820556566].

However, there wasn’t any good basis to assert that Mr. Shaw had an intention to cheat. He is young and has had limited anti-doping education. He did not enjoy any performance enhancing benefit.

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To achieve performance gains, inhaled doses of terbutaline must be well above the therapeutic dose. Strangely enough, the action behind the potential performance improvement is not linked to improved lung function. Simon Yates, British Cyclist, was once found to have terbutaline in his system. There was no hint that he was using the asthma drug for anything other than his condition, or that the dose in his case was unusually high.

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Though Mr. Shaw may train with his team after midnight on 15.09.2019, he shall be ‘eligible‘ to return to action from 16.11.2019. All individual results obtained by him, from 22.02.2019 to 16.07.2019, have been ‘disqualified’. Any individual medals or other prizes awarded to him, based on those results, have been ‘forfeited’.

Prithvi Shaw was declared the ‘Player Of The Match’ when he played the Indian Premier League Match, Kolkata Knight Riders v. Delhi Capitals, 30.03.2019.

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