Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ijaz Butt believes dope-tainted fast bowler Mohammad Asif might soon return to the national team after getting himself cleared of a couple of charges that are threatening to ruin his international career.
The PCB chairman said in an interview that Asif's offences are not of any serious nature, and added that Pakistan will pick him for national duty as soon as he is cleared by the relevant authorities.
"After going through the communications received from WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) and ICC (International Cricket Council), I think Asif may not be facing any long-term ban. We will recall him in the Pakistan team as soon he is cleared," said Butt.
Asif, 26, is currently battling on two fronts to avoid punishment that can vary from two years to a life ban.
He tested positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone last May while featuring in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). It was his second doping offence as he also failed a similar dope test in 2006 during the Champions Trophy in India.
In addition, Asif is also facing a PCB inquiry over his detention in Dubai Last June. He was caught at the Dubai airport, carrying a small quantity of opium and was later deported to Pakistan after being kept in detention for 19 days.
A four-man PCB inquiry committee is all set to begin investigation into the embarrassing incident soon.
Danish Zaheer, president of Sports Medicine Association of Pakistan (SMAP) and a WADA Accredited Doping Officer, had warned that Asif could be banned for life over his Dubai misadventure.
However, Butt is confident that Asif will not get a life ban. "Asif's offence is minor. It was blown out of proportions," he stressed. Asif is scheduled to appear before an IPL drugs tribunal in Mumbai on January 24.
Meanwhile, Shafqat Naghmi, PCB's former chief operating officer, has offered his services for the inquiry into Asif's Dubai detention case. According to sources, Naghmi has responded to a PCB letter in which the board had asked him to hand over the findings of an earlier inquiry conducted under him (Naghmi) last year.
Sources said that has informed the PCB that he had supervised an inquiry into Asif's case after receiving a report against him from the Dubai authorities.
In his reply, Naghmi said that Asif had also recorded his statement before the probe committee. However, he said that the inquiry could not be completed because of a change in the PCB set-up last September.
Naghmi, a senior government servant, told the PCB that he was willing to assist the new PCB probe committee to help it resolve the issue.
The new PCB probe committee includes former Pakistan Test wicket-keeper Wasim Bari, PCB's anti-doping specialist Sohail Saleem and the board's media manager Asif Sohail.