By Saroj Pathirana
A doctor who describes himself as Sri Lanka President’s personal physician is accused of prescribing a banned substance to Sri Lanka’s opening batsman Upul Tharanga.
Upul Tharanga was reportedly informed by the ICC that traces of Prednisolone was found in his blood sample randomly taken during the World Cup co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The ICC refused to comment.
“As a matter of ICC policy and in accordance with ICC and WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) regulations, we do not comment on anti-doping matters of this nature,” an ICC spokesman told the BBC.
Sri Lanka sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has appointed a three-member panel to investigate the incident.
Former Sri Lanka cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya that it is believed president’s physician Eliyantha White has prescribed the banned drug to the national cricketer.
Mr White, a healer whose services have reportedly been personally recommended by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to many sports personalities, has treated India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Former Australian skipper Ian Chappell, among others.
Mr White, whose qulalifications are not known, has treated many international players
Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga, India’s Gautam Gambhir and Ashish Nehra were also treated by Mr White, according to reports.
“Upul Tharanga whom I know will not deliberately take a banned drug,” Mr Ranathunga, currently an opposition MP said.
“I think we need to find out who prescribed these drugs to him.”
Sports minister Aluthgamage admits that Upul Tharanga was in fact treated by Mr White.
“Dr Eilyantha White treated not only Upul Tharanga but also other Sri Lanka players and Indian players. In addition, these players had received treatment from other doctors as well,” the minister told BBC Sinhala service.
“Mr Ranatunga is currently doing sports politics. As the Sports minister I have no obligation to answer questions of various people. But I can tell you, whoever the player, whoever the doctor, there is only one law in the country,” he added.
Ranatunga says pressure exerted on Tharanga not to reveal the name of the doctor who prescribed the banned drug
The head of national anti doping agency, Dr Geethanjana Mendis, has also admitted that he allowed Mr White – whose medical qualifications are unknown – to treat national cricket players, according to media reports.
Dr Mendis is the head of the investigative panel appointed by the minister.
Arjuna Ranatunga also accuses the government of exerting pressure on Upul Tharanga not to reveal the name of the who prescribed him the banned substance.
But the minister denies it.
“There’s no pressure. In the first place, how can you say this because ICC has still not informed the SLC anything yet. How can you give the birth certificate before the child is born?” he questioned.
“I can assure you we will take action against anybody found guilty after the investigation.”
A spokesman for Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) told the BBC that Tharanga has taken some medication for asthma.
There’s no pressure. In the first place, how can you say this because ICC has still not informed the SLC anything yet. How can you give the birth certificate before the child is born?
Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage
Under the ICC codes of conduct, the player is personally responsible to ensure that no prohibited substance enters their body.
Speaking to media after losing to India at the World Cup final in April, then Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara offered special thanks to Dr White.
Sangakkara could not be contacted despite repeated attempts to ask why he offered special thanks.
According to Mr White’s own blogsite (http://dr-eliyantha-white.blogspot.com/) he could only be contacted through the presidential secretariat.
“Patients who intend to meet Dr Eliyantha White need to make the request through the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka,” says the blogsite without offering any other contact details apart from two email addresses of the Secretariat.
The BBC is yet to receive a response to the detailed questionnaire sent on Saturday evening to the two emails mentioned in the blogsite.
The email addresses are now removed from the blogsite.
Secretary to President Rajapaksa, Lalith Weeratunga, did not answer the phone since then.
An official at the Presidential Secretariat refused to comment.