Top international cricket players have been coming under increasing fire from league officials for using marijuana on their own time.
On April 10, 2001, five top South African cricket players were caught smoking pot in their hotel room, along with the team physiotherapist. They were celebrating their championship victory over the West Indies in Antigua, but got caught.
A “Misconduct Committee” was quickly convened by team management and senior players, and the players were punished with fines of about $1000US. Later, two of the players denied they had toked, saying that they had merely been “in the same room with the other guys when it happened.” The United Cricket Board complained when they found out about the incident, but didn’t add any additional penalties.
The manager of the hotel involved had no complaints, saying “They were the best behaved and most popular sports team we have ever had staying here. My staff were enchanted by their friendliness and generosity and the manner in which they conducted themselves.”
An public online poll at indiaabroad.com showed 68% support for punishing the South African cricketers for toking up in their hotel rooms.
top toking players
Despite the official outrage, pot-smoking players are not a new phenomenon in the world of international cricket.
Ian Botham is considered “the best allrounder England ever produced.” His legendary performance in the 1981 Ashes Against Australia was voted “The Most Memorable Sporting Moment of All Time” by Observer Sport Monthly.
In the summer of 1986, Botham admitted through his newspaper column that he sometimes smoked marijuana. England’s cricket authority, the Test and County Cricket Board, quickly slapped him with a three month suspension. Their reason was that Botham “set a wrong example for young cricket fans.”
During his suspension, Botham attacked the “gin-swilling proclivities” of the Test selectors. In September 1994, while promoting his autobiography, Botham said he also smoked up during the 1983-84 tour to New Zealand. “There were times when I hid in my room, had a joint and totally switched off,” wrote the star athlete, who newspapers proclaimed “frequently carried the hopes of an entire nation on those broad shoulders.”
In 1995, four New Zealand players earned suspensions after admitting to smoking pot while on tour in South Africa. In 1996, Sussex fast bowler Ed Giddins got a 19-month ban and was fired from his cricket club after testing positive for cocaine.
In June 1997, Warwickshire all-rounder Paul Smith was given a 22-month suspension for writing in a newspaper article that he had used marijuana and cocaine during his career, and that drug-taking was common among cricket players. Later that year, Warwickshire wicketkeeper Kieth Piper was suspended for one game after a positive pot test.
Phil Tufnell, called by some “England’s most effective spinner of the decade,” was accused of being a toker in 1996, and was fined in 1997 for skipping out of a urine test.
As with the National Basketball Association, snowboarding, and many other sports, it seems that cricket players are also showing the world that toking up and being a top-notch athlete are not mutually exclusive.
– United Cricket Board of South Africa: South African players fined for smoking marijuana
– CricInfo: Top UCB officials knew of marijuana-smoking incident