No justice, accountability or equality. by Abdul Habib 8th December 2006 Justice, accountability and equality are all things that have been missing from the recent dope scandal involving Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif. Both these players have had their names and reputations dragged through the mud only to be acquitted on appeal without so much as an apology from anyone. In fact far from feeling vindicated, they must now endure a lifetime of sly comments and snide remarks from all and sundry. But what’s wrong with that you wonder? Why shouldn’t they be made to suffer for getting off ‘lightly’ instead of facing the mandatory 2 year WADA ban? Well the answer is a little complicated and it’s to do with outdated notions such as justice, accountability and equality. Let’s tackle each of those concepts one by one. We’ll start with accountability. All employees are accountable for breaching the rules set down by their employers but at the same time the employer is also accountable for ensuring that their employees are fully aware of any relevant rules and regulations. This ‘balance of accountability’ between employer and employee acts as an insurance policy against the abuse of the afore-mentioned rules by either party. When an employee fails to abide by the rules he agreed to, it’s only fair that he be disciplined but if the employer failed to inform the employee of the rule in question, then is it still fair to discipline that employee or should we discipline the employer? Which brings us to justice. Now justice should be a two way street and not something that only applies to the weakest part of the food chain. There will always be a clamour to punish those who appear to be breaking the laws but what of those who fail to properly implement those same laws? When an employer or a regulatory body fails to carry out their role in the ‘balance of accountability’ then should they not expect to be brought to justice too? And now we turn to equality. Clearly the employer and the employee aren’t equal because one has all the power and the other has none! But surely everyone at the bottom of the food chain is equal or are they? Most companies have a vast network of employees at the same level of the food chain but who work at different locations. Now in theory each of these employees should be equal but in reality they aren’t. In ‘group A’ you have a set of employees with capable managers and good union representation ensuring that they are fully aware of their rights and their duties. But in ‘group B’ you will find employees stuck with little or no union representation and poor management, resulting in them being poorly educated about their rights and duties. In group B, we’re not talking about wilfully negligent employees but rather employees that have been failed by the ‘accountability contract’ due to poor management on the part of their employer. Now are the employees in group A and group B both equal and should they be judged by the exact same yardstick? But how does the above apply to Akhtar and Asif? Let’s begin with the accountability contract. It’s the PCB’s responsibility to ensure that their employees are fully briefed and educated regarding the PCB’s rules and regulations. This is what all ‘responsible employers’ do and the same applies to regulatory bodies like the ICC and WADA as we ascend up the food chain. The PCB is accountable for ensuring that their players are fully aware of their rights and their duties, the ICC is responsible for making sure that any bodies they are regulating (like the PCB) are carrying out their responsibilities and WADA is responsible for making sure that their signatories (like the ICC) are carrying out their responsibilities. It’s only when that happens that we can hold those at the bottom of the food chain responsible for breaching the laws. In order for something like strict liability to be viable, there needs to be accountability all the way to the very top! Both the hearings into the Akhtar/Asif case concluded that the PCB hadn’t carried out their responsibilities properly and therefore Akhtar and Asif were acquitted and partial justice was done. But surely the accountability doesn’t end there? The findings of the hearing shouldn’t be dismissed so easily, instead they should be used to begin an investigation into why the PCB failed it’s players and in order to find out the true extent of the negligence, the investigation should extend on up into the ICC and upto WADA if necessary. Justice won’t be done until all 3 bodies are investigated to determine where the breach of the ‘balance of accountability’ began and what changes are necessary to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Not only that but the inequality in training, preparation and guidance between a Mohammad Asif and a Shane Warne also needs to be addressed. One comes from a country with a high literacy rate (supposedly 100%), he has a formal education, a powerful players union and speaks English as his first language. Whilst the other comes from a country with a very low literacy rate (46%), is a village bumpkin, has no formal players union and barely speaks any English. Now are they both equal on an international stage where everything is conducted in English? Are they both equally aware of doping regulations and prohibited substances? No they’re not! So why should they be judged and sentenced as though they’re both equally culpable? To punish both these players equally whilst knowing that there is a gulf of difference between their accountabilities is complete hypocrisy. If the ICC and WADA want both these players to be equally liable then they must fulfil their part of the ‘accountability contract’ by ensuring that both players are equally cognizant of the rules and regulations applying to them and their sport. Both bodies need to ensure that the PCB is carrying out it’s duty as effectively as the ACC is carrying out theirs and until that is the case, any prosecution (under strict liability) of players like Mohammad Asif and Shoaib Akhtar will be a further example of double standards and a complete lack of equality. The only real news to come out of this ‘dope scandal’ is that the PCB, the ICC and WADA are happy to punish players for breaking rules that they don’t feel the need to educate them about! But then for anyone familiar with any of these organisations, is that really news?