Pakistani fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif on Tuesday won their appeal against the ban they faced on doping charges.
A three-member appeals tribunal, appointed by the Pakistani Cricket Board (PCB), accepted the cricketers’ defence that did not have sufficient warning that the supplements they were taking could contain steroids.
The decision means Akhtar and Asif are likely to play in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean. After the verdict came, a relieved Akhtar said, "I am breathing again, my life was jolted no end by the ban. I can't describe the feeling." Asif said, “The past two months have been the worst of my life.”
On November 1, an internal Pakistani tribunal had banned Akhtar and Asif from cricket for two years and one year respectively after they tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.
The chairman of the appeals tribunal, Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, told reporters that the team's management was to blame for failing to inform the two bowlers about the complete contents of the vitamin supplements which they had been taking to recover from injury.
The tribunal said both players had met the test of "exceptional circumstances" as laid down in the PCB’s anti-doping regulations and they could not be deemed to have committed a doping offence.