Although anti-doping testing is focused primarily on the elite and professional athletes in all sports the principles and values provide the reasoning for anti-doping rules are relevant to all levels of sport.
Cricketers want to know their matches are fair, that it is a competition of talent, umpires are impartial and pitches are suitable. Alongside all of these elements they want to know that all performances are natural and no one has gained an unfair advantage.
It is also important to recognise that anti-doping rules in cricket, just as in any other sport, could be applied by UKAD or ECB to a player or member of support staff at any level of the game, not just those who are regularly tested.
But you don’t need to know the ins and outs of anti-doping rules to recognize the core principles that are central to athletes and players in all sports at all levels. Whether you are a recreational cricketer competing for your local club or a young player moving along a performance pathway the spirit of sport is undoubtedly important to you.
UKAD outline a number of fundamental factors for anyone competing in sport that are consistent with anti-doping principles and processes.
Ethics, fair play and honesty
This is central to cricket at all levels; a batsman who walks when he nicks it, a fielder who admits the ball didn’t quite carry for a catch. Players compete hard but are honest with those involved in their matches, they know what is right and wrong and they want success to be earned through fair play. Clearly performance enhancement through doping does not fit with these core beliefs of cricketers.
Many people take part in sport and physical activity as a way of improving their health and for any cricketer health is important. Recovery, hydration, a balanced diet and a good night’s sleep are all simple principles that can improve your cricketing performance. Using prohibited substances may seem like an attractive short cut but misuse of such substances and even medications that are not on the WADA Prohibited list could have significant negative health consequences.
Excellence in performance
Whatever level they are playing at a cricketer will always try to be the best player they can be. They may not take five wickets or score centuries but the best thing about playing cricket is taking part and doing your best. Preparation, working with coaches, teammates and parents will help you achieve this.
Character and education
As a cricketer it is important to know what you are aiming for, what are your targets and goals. Education can not only help you better understand aspects of nutrition and training to help you with your cricket it will also prepare your for your future career be that in cricket, after cricket or not related to cricket at all. Coaches, teachers, parents, teammates and friends are all there to help you.
Fun and enjoyment
Everyone plays cricket because they enjoy it and want to have fun. Through cricket you can meet new people, work as a team, travel to new places and develop as a person that will help you in your life outside of your cricket just as much as when you are playing.
Learning how to work together as part of a team is a fantastic experience cricket can give you with everyone using their own particular skills and attributes together for the ultimate benefit of the team as a whole. Teamwork is a crucial experience to have and will be transferrable to many other aspects of your life.
Dedication and commitment
Any professional cricketer will tell you there are no short cuts to reach the top. The years of hard work, training, sacrifice and perseverance make it all the more satisfying when you reach your end goal. Bad decisions such as using performance enhancing substances may seem like they could help you to get there quicker but in reality could ruin your dreams and prevent you from playing any cricket at all.
Respect for rules and laws
Clearly there are many rules and regulations in cricket which everyone must follow to enjoy the game to its fullest and play it in the spirit it should be. Some rules are in books or on the internet, others are unwritten, but all should be observed and respected.
Respect for yourself and other players
It is crucial to show respect to other players, officials and anyone that helps you to play cricket before, during and after matches as without them there would be no matches to take part in. Your teammates and those you play against are all trying to be the best cricketer they can and all of your cricket activity should be undertaken in the true spirit of sport.
Courage and resilience
Being the best cricketer you can be is not just about physical strength and fitness. Being mentally strong, showing courage and resilience are just as important. Training that bit longer, not giving up, occupying the crease, picking yourself up after you’ve bowled a poor over all of these types of characteristics make you a better cricketer and learning from your mistakes rather than letting them upset you can help you improve further.
Community and solidarity
Being part of a team, representing your village, club, district, county or even country is what cricket is all about. You should be proud of whatever you achieve and learn from victories and defeats with your teammates.
Simple anti-doping considerations for veryone
It can seem that anti-doping rules are complicated and competing as a clean cricketer is difficult but they really aren’t.
Considering the sporting principles outlined above and starting some simple processes will ensure that you meet any current and future anti-doping responsibilities and compete in the true spirit of cricket.
Start getting prepared now
Ask some questions, find out more about what the rules mean for you and what resources and support are available. This ECB webpage is a great place to start for any cricketer.
Be aware of the WADA Prohibited List and start to check the medications you are thinking of using. Just because you can buy something in a supermarket, it is in the medicine cabinet at home or even a doctor has prescribed it for you does not mean it is ok to use.
There are no short cuts to cricketing success and using nutritional supplements are not a suitable substitute for the principles of sports nutrition, recover, training and hard work. It may be tempting to use nutritional supplements because they are advertised by elite athletes but it is imperative that you consult an expert to assess the need to use and risk associated with a product as no guarantee can be given that any product is free of prohibited substances.
Your lifestyle away from cricket is just as important as when you are training and playing. You may already be considering how you spend your time, who you socialise with, where you go and how you can improve your sporting performance and prepare for life after cricket.
Remember illicit drugs such as cannabis and cocaine are not only on the WADA Prohibited List but are also illegal.
Finally understand the principle of strict liability. Whatever you take, whatever you do it is your responsibility.
There is no excuse for not knowing with support and information available from many sources. If you don’t know something just ask!
If you want to find out more detailed information take a look around the ECB Anti-Doping pages or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also more information about what aspects of anti-doping should be considered as you move along the athlete pathway in the UKAD Athlete Zone.