Kusal’s mental agony


by Rex Clementine

Conspiracy theories were plenty among Sri Lankan fans over the last couple of days after the suspension of wicketkeeper batsman Kusal Janith Perera was lifted immediately by the International Cricket Council (ICC) earlier in the week. Many fans believed that India had something to do with Kusal’s ban to make Sri Lanka weaker during Asia Cup and World T-20 campaigns. Sri Lanka entered both events as defending champions, but made early exits failing horribly in their title defense in Bangladesh and India. The fans pointed out that one of West Indies main trump cards Sunil Narine was also banned during the World T-20 and his suspension was only lifted after the World T-20.

Whatever the fans may think, it’s doubtful that Sri Lanka would have had a spectacular tournament in India even with Kusal’s presence. The team during Asia Cup and World T-20 had been plagued by internal clashes. Forget the conspiracy theories. The fact is that both the ICC and World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) got things terribly wrong.

Not only was Kusal deprived of his living, his reputation too had suffered. Kusal was informed of the ban on the eve of a Test match against New Zealand last year and he was sent home. He was even denied the opportunity of training at any of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) facilities.

In January, many convinced Kusal to admit the guilt without requesting his ‘B’ sample to be tested in order to get a lenient sentence for doping. However, he demanded the ‘B’ sample to be tested and all hope was lost when the laboratory in Qatar, accredited by the WADA said that he had tested positive again.

Despite all hope fading away, Kusal decided to remain in the hunt and there was backing by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). His Manager former St. Joseph’s cricketer Ravi de Silva was a towering strength backing the player to the hilt and accompanying him to England and France for various tests.

Eventually the law firm hired by SLC to argue Kusal’s case successfully proved that the drug test conducted by the Qatar laboratory was botched.

For tarnishing his reputation and for depriving him of his living, Kusal now has a strong case to argue and he could successfully sue the ICC and WADA. However, any such action looks unlikely as SLC looked certain to not to go on the war path against the ICC. What they could do is to ask ICC pocket the bill for all the expenses that were involved in getting Kusal’s name cleared. The player could be also paid a compensation.

What happened to Kusal was a grave injustice. He had cemented his place in Sri Lanka’s ODI and T-20 squads and had just found his place in the Test squad. His progress had been dented by some bogus findings.

The ICC stands ridiculed for the process followed. WADA’s reputation too has suffered. The authorities had forgotten that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. Kusal will feel relieved and vindicated. He has been let down by the system.


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