Shoaib, Asif fail drug test; sent home | india | Hindustan Times
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Shoaib, Asif fail drug test; sent home

india Updated: Oct 17, 2006 01:28 IST
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PAKISTAN’S CRICKET team, barely recovered from the Ovalgate crisis, plunged into another controversy on Monday, on the eve of its opening Champions Trophy encounter against Sri Lanka.

In a dry official statement, Pakistan manager Talat Ali told the media that two frontline pace bowlers, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif had failed a drug test conducted by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in September. The two tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone. Later, they were sent back to Pakistan. 

Sources said both the A and B samples of the bowlers showed traces of the performance-enhancing drug and PCB promptly decided to set up a committee to look into the scandal and recommend disciplinary action.

The positive results, which the PCB received yesterday from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited lab in Kuala Lumpur, were revealed just a day before Pakistan were to play their opening Champions Trophy match against Sri Lanka in Jaipur. Shoaib and Asif both face a possible two-year ban from the game under the ICC anti-doping policy for a first time offence.

Sources close to the Pakistani team management said it got the news of the positive dope tests sometime between Sunday evening and midnight. The information was leaked to a Pakistani newspaper, which meant the country woke up to the news on Monday.                         

Pakistanis here said it was done because the PCB is a divided house — one section wanted to embarrass the current regime. In another statement, skipper Younis Khan said the team management was "very disappointed" but would cope.

"It is obvious that it will be tough when our top players are not there but I consider this a team game. It is best to be positive and try and play well," he said. Asked if there was a possibility of any other player testing positive, Younis laughed and said: "There is no other player as of now." Woolmer looked far more upset. "I am angry and disappointed," he said.

Although no player was ready to come on record, in private, many admitted they were shaken.

One called it "childish and immature" on the part of Akhtar to feign ignorance, saying players were regularly briefed on drugs that are banned. But he added: "I think both players may have taken the drugs at the behest of their doctors. Both have struggled with injuries in the recent past."

Meanwhile, Akhtar defended himself, saying: "I have done nothing wrong." ICC chief Malcolm Speed said a PCB inquiry committee would be set up to deal with the matter after the B sample report became known.

"Shoaib has been quite an entertainer in the game. Let history decide how he will be remembered," he said.