Pakistan's star speedster Shoaib Akhtar and highly-rated talent Mohammad Asif have been suspended and could miss out on the World Cup next year following their positive dope tests for nandrolone.
"Shoaib and Asif have tested positive after routine tests were carried out before the team's departure for India," Pakistan cricket Board's Director Cricket Operations Saleem Altaf told PTI.
"As soon as we got the reports we decided to ask for another tests on their urine samples. But in the meantime they have been suspended and will return home immediately," he said.
The bowlers were suspended immediately after the preliminary results conducted on their urine samples showed traces of nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. As per anti-doping rules, tests would be conducted on their 'B' samples for reconfirmation.
If their 'B' samples also test positive, the ICC rules provide for a ban up to two years from the sport. The World Cup is to be played in the West Indies in March-April 2007.
Australian leg spinner Shane Warne had missed out on the last World Cup after testing positive for a diuretic.
Even though Shoaib and Asif were not caught in tests coducted by ICC during any event, they are still liable to be punished as both the ICC and PCB are signatories to the WADA anti-doping code.