Sri Lanka opening batsman Upul Tharanga has been found guilty of committing an anti-doping rule violation under Article 2.1 of the ICC Anti-Doping Code (the “ICC Code”) and has been suspended from all cricket and cricket-related activities for a period of three months.
Tharanga, 26, provided a urine sample as part of the ICC’s random in-competition testing programme after the conclusion of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 semi-final between Sri Lanka and New Zealand, held in Colombo on 29 March 2011.
His sample was subsequently tested by a World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory and was found to contain metabolites of two glucocorticosteroids – Prednisone and Prednisolone. These are classified as ‘Specified Substances’ under WADA’s Prohibited List and are prohibited in-competition ‘when administered by oral, intravenous intramuscular or rectal routes’.
An independent anti-doping tribunal, comprising Mr Tim Kerr, QC, (acting as chairman), Dr Anik Sax and Prof. Peter Sever heard the case via videoconference today and made its determination after considering detailed written and oral legal submissions as well as live witness evidence, including from Tharanga himself.
The tribunal accepted that Tharanga had ingested the ‘Specified Substances’ when drinking a herbal remedy given to him to ease discomfort caused by a long-standing shoulder injury. It also found that Tharanga had no intention to enhance his sporting performance or to mask the use of another performance enhancing substance, but that he had failed to satisfy the high levels of personal responsibility implicit upon him as an international cricketer subject to anti-doping rules.
Tharanga pleaded guilty to the offence at an early stage in the proceedings and, as mandated under the ICC Code, the tribunal disqualified the rankings points he earned from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
The tribunal also exercised its discretion under the ICC Code to impose upon him a period of ineligibility of three months, which was back-dated, in accordance with the discretion afforded to the tribunal under the ICC Code, to commence on 9 May 2011 and expiring at midnight on 8 August 2011, therefore leaving him eligible to return to cricket and cricket related activities on 9 August 2011.
In light of the circumstances of this case, the ICC re-iterates its zero-tolerance approach to doping and warns all international players that they remain personally responsible for ensuring that anything they eat, drink or put into their bodies (including any medical treatment they receive) does not give rise to an anti-doping rule violation under the Code.
Reacting after the tribunal announced its decision, Tharanga said: “I apologise to the fans and followers of Sri Lanka cricket for inadvertently committing an offence. I hope my fellow sportsmen will learn from my experience and be more vigilant when taking medical treatment, so that their careers do not suffer in the way that mine has.”
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC Chief Executive, said: “We recognise that Upul has not been found guilty of deliberately cheating, but the ICC maintains its zero-tolerance approach towards doping for the benefit of all its stakeholders. Cases like this serve as a reminder to all players that they must take great care and personal responsibility at all times for the substances that they consume.
“I am satisfied with the tribunal’s decision and pleased at the way the ICC has handled this case with both sensitivity and efficiency.”
All parties with a right of appeal (including Tharanga and the ICC) will be entitled to appeal the decision within 21 days of their receipt of the written decision.