Upul Tharanga and Eliyantha White under the gun

S.R. Pathiravithana , in the Sunday Times, 12 June 2011

The beleaguered Sri Lanka ODI opener Upul Tharanga will face an official ICC panel of inquiry to explain about his side of the story following reports that he had been tested positive for banned drugs, according to informed sources. The ICC inquiry will be held in Dubaion or about June 24. If the Lankan opener cannot substantiate his innocence at this inquiry, he stands to face a maximum two-year ban, the sources said citing World Anti-Doping Agency rule Sri Lanka Cricket which was keeping mum on the issue last week broke its silence and issued a statement saying, “The ICC, has informed Sri Lanka Cricket that Upul Tharanga has been tested positive for the presence of a prohibited substance during a testing of a urine sample collected from him after the semi final match against New Zealand on March 29, 2011and a disciplinary charge has been initiated. “Since there is an ongoing inquiry to verify this charge, Tharanga will not be making himself available for selection until the conclusion of the inquiry and therefore will not be available for the ODI and T20 matches in England and the Sri Lanka “A” Team tour of England.”

Last week, following the Sunday Times revelation Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage admitted to the BBC’s Sinhala Service Sandeshaya that Tharanga was under medication from Eliyantha White, an alternate medical practitioner whose clientele is said to include President Mahinda Rajapaksa and sportspersons here and abroad. The Ministry of Sports also conducted an independent inquiry on the Tharanga case. Both Tharanga and White have given evidence in two separate sittings, but the findings of the inquiry are yet to be made public.

Tharanga will also not be available for the Sri Lankan T-20 showpiece Sri Lanka Provincial League (SLPL) where he was scheduled to lead the Southern Xl. Sri Lanka Cricket Interim Committee Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga said “Tharanga has written us and said he would not be available for selection to play any type of cricket till the present inquiries are over”.

Tharanga is the second cricketer in the World rankings to get under the doping hammer. The first was Australian legendary spinner Shane Warne who was suspended by the Anti-Doping Committee of the Australian Cricket Board for one year, after finding him guilty. Warne returned a positive sample to the banned drug Moduretic, a diuretic often used by sports drug cheats to mask other prohibited substances including anabolic steroids, which are often used by sports men and women to promote rapid tissue healing after injury.

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