Prithvi Shaw, who in 2019 was banned for 8 months for failing a dope test, has revealed that the ‘Cough syrup gate’ broke him mentally and emotionally, and played on his mind for no less than two months. Shaw claimed that he dreaded the thought of people perceiving him as a ‘consumer of drugs.’
In the span of ten months Prithvi Shaw went from being hailed the ‘next Sachin Tendulkar’ to being branded a ‘doper’ as in mid-2019, less than a year into his international debut, the youngster was slapped with a eight-month ban by the BCCI for failing a dope test. Shaw tested positive for a banned substance, terbutaline, during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in early 2019 and it was later revealed that the youngster had consumed the said substance via a cough syrup.
A lot of speculations have since floated around, with some claiming that Shaw consumed the banned substance deliberately, but two years on, the youngster has revealed the truth about the story. Speaking to Harsha Bhogle on Cricbuzz, Shaw revealed that an innocent suggestion from his father led to him accidentally procuring a banned cough syrup, and admitted that he was at fault for not cross-verifying with the physio about the contents of the syrup.
“Actually my dad and I are responsible for the cough syrup incident,” Shaw told Bhogle on Cricbuzz.
“We were in Indore playing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and I was unwell, down with cough and cold. I’d gone out for dinner that time and I remember telling my dad about the cough situation. He asked me to get a cough syrup and I procured it from a local medical store. I did without consulting the physio and it was a grave mistake.
“I took the cough syrup for two days and day three was my dope test. In that they detected a banned substance and I got to know of it only after the IPL.”
The ‘grave mistake’ led to Shaw being handed a backdated eight-month ban, and it turned out to be an enormous blow for the youngster, who ended up missing the entirety of the 2019/20 home season. Not only that, the incident also tarnished Shaw’s reputation, with a section of the general public labelling him a ‘cheat’. The 21-year-old revealed that he spent months inside his house in the fear of being shamed, and added that he also had an inherent fear of people branding him a ‘drug consumer’.
“That was a very difficult phase, I can’t express that in words. I remember looking around and thinking, ‘How would people perceive me?’. I feared that people would see me as a consumer of drugs and banned substances. It really hit me hard. I would sit alone at home and think about it.
“Then I went to London as I was unable to handle the situation here. I was in London for a two and a half months but I did not step out of my room for one full month, constantly thinking about my ban. Because I was having a great time in international cricket and boom, suddenly it went down.”
As if being banned and seeing his reputation tarnished wasn’t bad enough, Shaw’s problems were exacerbated by the media, who leaked reports showing the youngster in bad light. Shaw admitted that people writing false stories about him ‘hurt him’, but insisted that he has now realized that scoring runs consistently is the easiest way to keep the press in check.
“Things that are not true would also get published. I’ve never gone and confronted anyone in the media but the untrue things written about me hurt me a lot. Nowadays they write well if you’re doing well and opposite if you aren’t. I’ve realized the only way to overcome it is by batting well and scoring runs. Now I’ve distanced myself from those things, they don’t bother me.”
At 21, Shaw has already been a victim of cyberbullying by internet trolls, and the youngster admitted that he, at times, has thought of quitting social media altogether. However, the 21-year-old asserted that his hands are tied because he has sponsorship commitments online, but insisted that he tries his best to ‘handle the pressure’.
“Every now and then I think I have to quit social media, but then there are a lot of commitments (brands and promotions). Whenever I feel like I want to quit social media, I tell myself that I can handle the pressure.”