Test squad warned of saga back home
Australia's Test cricketers in India have been warned about their intake of supplements following the extraordinary drugs-in-sport saga that is engulfing rugby league club Cronulla.
Michael Clarke's team is midway through a four-match series in India and trailing 2-0 after a demoralising innings defeat in Hyderabad. It is easy to suggest it is desperately in need of performance enhancement of a legal kind. The obvious gag is: if they're taking anything, it certainly isn't working.
Jocularity aside, however, the issue has been met head-on by Australian team hierarchy in the subcontinent, despite cricket not being pinpointed in the Australian Crime Commission report on drugs, match fixing and links to organised crime, released last month. Players have been asked to show the touring medico exactly what they are ingesting on the seven-week visit to India.
''I had a chat to the guys when we started the tour,'' team doctor Peter Brukner said. ''They've shown me anything that they were taking and it's all absolutely fine. Most of them are not taking anything anyway but a few are taking protein shakes and things like that, which are all pretty straightforward.
''There are a small amount of supplements used, vitamins and so on, at various times in every sport. You just have to be careful what's required and what's given.''
While cricket has been spared the investigative glare of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority after the ACC report, Cricket Australia is undertaking a review of how it manages integrity issues, hiring former AFL football boss Adrian Anderson as a consultant.
Brukner, a former head of English Premier League football club Liverpool's sports medicine and science unit and an ex-Socceroos doctor, said the intake of supplements by Australian players would continue to be closely supervised on tours and at home, despite no suggestion of any banned substance use in the game.
''There has never been a culture of real high-end performance enhancement in cricket, so it's not so much of an issue, but every sport has to address it these days. We've got to be super careful,'' Brukner said.
''I think it's a wake-up call to all sports. We've got to be very careful and vigilant about what people are using. I think it's been a sign that the role of the doctor has become a bit reduced in some aspects of sport and sports scientists have sort of taken over the performance-enhancement side of things and by and large they do an excellent job.
''But certainly the doctors need to be involved in the whole process and very vigilant about what is happening and that certainly is the case here, and always has been in cricket.
''Cricket Australia has a dietitian who advises on these things.''
Meanwhile, wicketkeeper Matthew Wade says Australia must stamp out their reliance on Clarke if they want to regain respect in the remainder of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. The Test captain has once again been Australia's leading run-scorer with first-innings contributions of 130 and 91 in Chennai and Hyderabad but has accepted that he must move up the order to mitigate the failures of teammates. Wade, elevated to No.6 on this tour to accommodate the inclusion of all-rounder Moises Henriques, deserves less of the blame than some others for Clarke running out of partners.
The gloveman's 62 in the first innings at Hyderabad at least gave Clarke a degree of companionship. The rest of the team were comparative one-night stands.
''Michael has had to score a truckload of runs for us,'' Wade said. ''I felt very disappointed when I got out in [the second Test]. Individually we'd like to stick around with him and help him out and take the pressure off him.''