Saroj Pathirana, BBC Sinhala Service
The sports minister in Sri Lanka has said he will launch an investigation into allegations that the ministry’s own medical unit provided banned substances to some of the country’s sports personnel. Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told the BBC Sinhala Service that he was sacking the head of the unit, Dr Geethanjana Mendis, and replacing the whole team with sports medical experts. “We have received numerous serious complaints from sports personnel and sports associations that individuals at the unit provided banned substances,” said Aluthgamage. “The unit also does not have any sports medical specialist. Under these circumstances, mainly due to the recent doping incidents, we need to strengthen the unit to conduct a wider anti-doping programme island-wide.”Cricketer Upul Tharanga was banned for three months by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after he was found guilty of taking a banned drug during the 2011 World Cup. Two Commonwealth Games medallist, boxer Manju Wanniarachchi and weightlifter Chintana Vidanage, were among the other national sportsmen to be banned from the international game, together with a group of rugby players.
Aluthgamage said there was an urgent need to strengthen the sports medical unit with a “good administrator” and specialists in order to initiate a wider anti-doping programme. Dr Geethanjana Mendis refused to comment when contacted by the BBC.
No action against Sanga – Minister
The sports minister in Sri Lanka says no action was taken against Kumar Sangakkara for his controversial 2011 Cowdrey Lecture that criticised corruption in cricket administration. The minister has ordered the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to submit a report after the widely hailed lecture delivered in London earlier this year.Chairman of SLC, Upali Dharmadasa, earlier said that he would talk to Sangakkara after the series against Australia was over. But the minister now says no such explanation was called from the former Sri Lanka cricket captain. “There is no doubt that it was a great lecture,” Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya. “Our concern was about the last part of his speech – that he should have done it in Sri Lanka not in England. However, we did not ask for explanation and no investigation was held,” he added.The minister also said that the head of the ministry’s medical unit, Dr Geethanjana Mendis did not have any authority to allow any doctors or healers to national cricket players.Dr Mendis has publicly admitted that he allowed Eliyantha White, who is not a registered doctor in Sri Lanka, to treat cricketers during the recently concluded World Cup. Mr White, a healer who claims to be Sri Lanka president’s personal physician, can only be contacted through the presidential secretariat. “If Mr Eliyantha White is allowed to treat the cricketers, that should be done by the ministry but I do not know more details about it,” Minister Aluthgamage told the BBC Sinhala service.Dr Geethanjana Mendis, who was sacked by the minister as the head of the ministry’s sports unit, refused to comment.Web Editor’s Notes:
(1) If my memory serves meright Eli White ministered to Lasith Malinga and was said to have helped him recover in quick time. This intervention may have been mediated by the President but I am subkject ot correction on this point.(2) Subsequently two Indian cricketers (Gambhir? Yuvraj?) came all the way to Sri Lanka during the IPL series to get a miracle cure [ in expectation] from Dr Eliyathamby White. Whether the President’s good offices were involved in this act I do not know, but I have a vague recollection that Dilshan may have been one of the mediators .. and since he played for Delhi at that point of time it is likely that he had given Gambhir the name of Dr White. (3) Dr White had a seat reserved for him in the chairman’s section of the Premadasa stadium during the Quarter finals of the World Cup …. The seat was not occupied. Let me add that this section had space for well over 150 people and I was one of those with a complimentary ticket.
It is not suggested here in Notes 1 and 2 that anything hanky-panky was going on. Dr White represents alternative homeopathic treatment and sportsmen in strife are always ready to seek out quick remedies just as some will visit Kataragama or Munnesvaram etc etc for transcendental aid in securing their sporting goals or gaining full health. However, it also seems that he administered banned substances to Upul Tharanga without the latter’s knowledge and thereby jeopardised his career.