“Cricket – a gentleman’s game” a very famous statement adored by most of the people who played cricket or enjoyed watching it around the 70’s and 80’s. But does this statement still hold true? Well from the commentators or cricketing experts perspective it does. But from the viewers perspective, there is a doubt over the statement, more so on the “gentlemen” playing the game.
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The year 2010 provided these viewers with more such incidents that could raise further doubts including those on the integrities of the players. The first notable incident was when Sri Lankan cricketer Suraj Randiv bowled a no-ball to deny Indian batsmen Virender Sehwag from scoring a century. Sehwag was on 99, with India needing just one-run to win the match. Randiv deliberately bowled a no-ball. Sehwag was thus stranded on 99 even though he hit that ball for a six. After much criticism, the Lankan bowler accepted the wrong-doing, but by then; the spirit of the game was already being questioned.
As if this incident was not enough to dent the “spirit” of the game, and as if the no-ball had not got its due recognition, three Pakistani players were alleged in the spot-fixing controversy. The no-balls were now going to get a fair deal of recognition. The three Pakistani players, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir had allegedly accepted bribes from bookie Mazhar Majeed. The deal was to bowl deliberate no-balls and under-perform at specific points of time or in specific over’s in the 4th test match with England at Lord’s. The information was used by Majeed to make wagers.
When the news was first reported by the News of the World, the trio denied the charges and pleaded innocence. However, with their background of having being involved in prior such controversies related to match-fixing, doping, controversies related to the death of their former coach, this incident was not something that could have been shut without any investigation. The three players were temporarily suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Notices were sent to Pakistan board and these three players, seeking information into allegations of spot and match fixing. The Scotland Yard arrested Majeed for investigating the charges of suspicion of conspiracy. Later a few more arrests were made in the case, these being related to money laundering in connection with the fixing allegations. They submitted their reports to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS was to decide whether to hold the players guilty or not. Finally, the ICC concluded on its investigation that the three players were indeed guilty of accepting bribes for spot-fixing. They were subsequently banned for a period of 10 years for Salman Butt, 7 for Asif and 5 years for Mohammad Amir. 5 years for Butt and 2 for Asif were suspended on the condition that both of them “commit no further breach of the code”. All of them were allowed to appeal against their sentences with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The sentences were aimed to thwart other such incidences from occurring. But as they say an image once tarnished is difficult to rebuild. Here the image in question is not only of Pakistan cricket but of cricket as a game. Will such sentences prevent the future occurrence of such or probably new methods of match-fixing, is something that only the time will tell.
Story 2: Lost in the Woods
Tiger Woods is a professional American golfer & one of the most successful golfers of all time. His achievements to date by winning the most career PGA tours & major golf championships make him the youngest & fastest golfer to earn him such accolades. But, there is always an upside of being a sports celebrity. Your personal & professional lives are followed continuously by the media & public who idolise you. Woods paid the price of being a celebrity when he got involved in one of the famous infidelity stories of modern times.
On November 25, 2009, there was a story published in the tabloid The National Enquirer, which claimed that Woods was having an extramarital affair with one of the nightclub manager in New York, Rachel Uchitel. The media started garnering attention to the story about Woods’s infidelity after Woods suffered a car accident a day later. The accident occurred near his home when he left around 2:30 a.m. in his car. Woods had hit a hedge, a fire hydrant, and a tree which was near his house. Woods was cited for careless driving & paid a $164 traffic fine. He initially refused to speak to either the media or the police. This led to a lot of speculation among his fans & media persons. Finally, after 2 days, he released his clarification statement on his personal website, which mentioned that he undertook blame for the car crash and said that he didn’t want any more speculation as it was his personal matter. Reports soon surfaced in the media circles saying that Woods’ wife, Elin, had attacked his car with a golf club following an argument about Woods’ alleged affair with Uchitel.
Further interest in the story grew when a San Diego based cocktail waitress, Jaimee Grubbs claimed in one of the magazine’s that she had a two-and-a-half-year affair with Woods. She also had various texts & voice messages as a proof to support her claims. Soon, over a dozen women claimed through various mediums that they also had alleged affairs with Woods. This increased a lot of pressure on Woods from all sections of media, fans & his sponsors. On Dec 11, 2009 he made a public statement on his website in which he admitted to infidelity and apologized for his behaviour. He also announced that he has decided to take a temporary break from playing professional golf till he settles down with his personal life.
Shortly after this statement, several companies who were Wood’s sponsors started to reconsider the endorsement deals signed with him. On 8th December, 2009, Nielsen carried out a survey & found that the advertisers had temporarily suspended television & other media advertisements featuring Woods post the extramarital affairs scandals emerged. Some of the major sponsors of Woods showed him support initially and decided to retain him. But he was suspended by Gillette on Dec 11, and also by Accenture on Dec 13, stating that the golfer was “no longer the right representative.” The shareholders had undergone an estimated loss which was as high as $5 to $12 billion due to the Woods’ extramarital affairs scandal.
The entire Tiger Woods infidelities controversy proved one thing that no individual can take anything for granted, even if he is the world’s highest earning professional sports athlete. Woods had admitted that he was unfaithful to his wife & had extramarital affairs with a number of women. Infidelity is not acceptable by any court of law. It is the most unethical thing to happen in a marriage & cannot be tolerated or forgiven by any partner (irrespective of their gender) in the world. He was caught by the charisma & power that comes by being a famous sports celebrity. He had the wrong belief that he had the power to perform any actions, and his brand image & his fan following would not cause any harm to him. He was under the impression that normal rules/laws followed in society did not apply to a big sports celebrity like him. This brought to his downfall & his multiple infidelities tarnished his on-field brand image built by him from over a decade. His acts had disappointed his fans, family, friends & business partners all over the world. Woods officially divorced his wife on Aug 23, 2010. Currently, Woods has made a comeback to professional golf but he is neither in the best of his form on-field nor does he have the support that he used to have before the controversy.
Story 3: Olympics take a Dope
Olympics, the greatest sporting event in the world, is not free from issues and one of the issue which is bothering the organizer for a long time is usage of performance enhancing drugs. The genesis of using the similar things can be found in Ancient Olympics in form of specially cooked lizard meat which would improve athletes’ performance. In modern Olympics, there have been many cases where players have been banned for using drugs starting with alcohol usage in 1968 till 30 athletes were banned in Vancouver in 2010. IOC (International Olympic Committee) along with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) has taken a strong stand against use of such elements. In fact, “Zero Tolerance for Doping” was adopted as an official slogan for the Beijing Olympic Games (2008). The case which we are going to see how Bahrain Athlete Rashid Ramzi was stripped of his gold medal for doping in 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
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Rashid Ramzi climbed to the top of the Asian scene, after transferring to Bahrain, winning gold medals at the Asian Athletics Championships and the Asian Games 2002. He set an Asian indoor record over 800 metres to take the silver at the 2004 IAAF World Indoor Championships-his first global medal-and took part in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He reached the peak of his discipline the following year by becoming both the 800 m and 1500 m champion at the 2005 World Championships in Athletics – the first man to ever do such a double at the competition. He failed to retain his titles at the 2007 World Championships, but still took the silver medal over 1500 m. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, he was the recipient of the first ever medal for Bahrain at the Olympics – winning the 1500 m gold medal.
However, he failed to maintain his integrity before performing at 2008 Olympics Games. His result (of winning gold medal in 2008) did not stand and he was excluded from the sport for two years after his test came back positive for the banned blood-boosting substance CERA (Continuous erythropoietin receptor activator), a newer version of a endurance-enhancing hormone that was cutting edge stuff. In April 2009, the Bahrain Olympic Committee reported Ramzi tested positive for doping at the Beijing Games. Ramzi tested positive for CERA, an advanced version of the blood-boosting drug EPO. Ramzi’s backup “B” sample was tested on June 18, 2009 and in July 2009 it was announced Ramzi’s “B” sample has tested positive as well. In November 2009, Ramzi was stripped of his gold medal.
An important thing to note, here, is the players (many others including Ramzi were suspended or stripped of their medal) were knowing about illegal use of drug CERA but test to check CERA were not available before. So, players took advantage of it. But, as soon as test came into existence, it was applied on players and were given appropriate punishment. This incident tells us how hard IOC and WADA tries to eliminate drug issue from Olympics, usage of such drugs will become integral part of Olympics unless Players take a moral responsibility of eradicating drug demon.
Story 4: Corruption in Commonwealth Games 2010
They killed animals, cut trees, displaced people, snatched livelihoods, destroyed river, looted the taxpayers, violated all possible labor laws, increased cost of living to unimaginable heights, asked students to vacate hostels, destroyed heritage of this age old city and all this in the name of Green Games. Yes, as a matter of fact the only thing green about October 2010 held Commonwealth Games in the capital city was “the money” involved in it.
The mission of this game included “creating sustainable environment and leave behind a lasting legacy” and values include “transparency”. Delhi had won the bid in November 2003, in last six years whatever happened in the name of Games completely defied above mentioned vision, mission and values. On the contrary, the opacity in the conducting of the games deeply scarred the sentiments of the people and the civil society in India. The destructive development that had happened over the years in the name of a game has tarnished the image of India to a great extent.
Initially the estimated cost of the games was around Rs. 150 crores which rose to Rs. 70,000 crores. Common man’s hard earned money was used in an extravagant and reckless manner. There was corruption ranging from procurement of small items like towels, soaps etc. to construction of bridges and stadiums. Before the start of the games, corruption was suspected but the magnitude was not known. The cost of renovation of a stadium proved to be more than building a new stadium. There were reports of child labour in the construction of venues. Death of 48 labourers did not make much news and was mentioned in passing. For some of the mess in Delhi, Congress blames MCD controlled by BJP while BJP and other opposition political parties directed their fingers to the ruling party at Delhi. Allegations of corruption spanned a broad spectrum including issuing of contracts and purchase of equipment — from treadmills to toilet rolls. India’s anti-corruption watchdog identified more than 16 projects with possible irregularities.
Allegations of corruption over the Commonwealth games 2010 event that took place in Delhi in October 2010 are being investigated by several bodies including the anti-corruption watchdog, the state auditor, the CBI and a special committee set up by Prime Minister Singh. The Congress-party led coalition government came under fierce criticism for mismanagement and ineptitude over the sporting extravaganza which cost up to Rs. 70,000 crore (USD 6 billion). It is obvious that a complete lack of governance and accountability has led to all kinds of politicians and officials diving in to make a quick buck out of the government’s magnanimity. The Congress party, as a desperate measure to save its face, eventually sacked Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the organising committee, as secretary of the party’s parliamentary wing. Recently, Kalmadi and his Aides have been arrested and questioned by the CBI regarding the irregularities in the run-up to hosting the just-concluded Commonwealth Games.
What was supposed to be India’s moment of glory was turned into the country’s hour of shame.
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