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Asif emerges chief suspect

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was bracing for yet another doping scandal Monday following Sunday night's report that a fast bowler from the sub-continent has failed a dope test conducted during the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Karachi
UPDATED ON JUL 14, 2008 12:24 PM IST

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was bracing for yet another doping scandal on Monday following Sunday night's report that a fast bowler from the sub-continent has failed a dope test conducted during the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Though there was no official confirmation, the finger of suspicion has been pointing towards Pakistan's dope-tainted pacer Mohammed Asif, who featured for Delhi Daredevils in the cash-rich IPL.

Senior PCB officials were mum on such speculations but sources in the PCB said there was a lot of concern over the reports.

The PCB had to do a lot of damage control and faced adverse criticism for its role in the previous doping scandal that hit Pakistan cricket when Asif and fellow pacer Shoaib Akhtar failed dope tests almost two years ago.

Sources said PCB is already taking legal advice on the issue in a bid to be ready to face the situation in case Asif is confirmed as the doping culprit.

Asif, who is facing a PCB inquiry after being detained for 19 days in Dubai for possessing a banned drug, was one of the five cricketers tested for illegal substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) during the IPL.

The Sheikhupura-born bowler, who had undergone a one-year ban after testing positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone during the Champions Trophy in India, suffered from an elbow injury and that saw him miss seven of the 14 games that his team played.

The WADA officials arrived in India from Sweden May 18 when the 44-day IPL was moving towards its final phase to do random dope tests on the cricketers involved in the event.

A day before the WADA testing, Asif sat out of the game against Kings XI Punjab and wasn't part of the team in subsequent three games. The reason given for Asif's absence was an elbow problem and the player was found wearing a strap around his elbow as his team mates continued to practice.

Later, the injury was described as non-serious though Asif hasn't played much competitive cricket since then because of his stay at the Dubai detention centre.

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