M A I N   N E W S

Ban on Shoaib, Asif lifted

Karachi, December 5
In an about-turn, Pakistan cricket authorities today lifted the bans on fast bowling spearheads Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, and made them eligible for playing in the World Cup five months away.

Shoaib was banned for two years and Asif for one by a dope tribunal on November 1, throwing their careers in jeopardy, but the new appellate tribunal overturned the ruling which it said was “too harsh”.

Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, who headed the three-member appeals tribunal, said: “The bans on them were too harsh.” It was up to the Pakistan Cricket Board to decide whether the two bowlers could be fielded in the ODI series against the West Indies, which commenced today at Rawalpindi. He said neither player was advised on taking vitamin supplements which might have led to them testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.

“We were totally independent and there was no pressure on us to give any rubber stamp decision. We felt the whole procedure was not correct and the ban was too harsh and could destroy their careers,” he told reporters here.

“Shoaib and Asif will not be deemed to have committed a doping offence. The ban and punishment imposed by the earlier tribunal is hereby set aside as being contrary to the provision of laws,” Ebrahim said adding the three-member tribunal made its decision by a 2-1 majority.

Ibrahim said the committee found that the bowlers were never warned or cautioned against taking supplements.

Asif was only told to discontinue taking the supplements whem he himself told team physio Darryn Lifson about them in August 2006, he said. Neither player was “even provided with any international or local publication warning them against the use of supplements.” It was the committee’s “considered view that Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif have successfully established that they had an honest and reasonable belief that the supplements ingested by them did not contain any prohibited substances”.

They were cleared under exceptional circumstances according to PCB’s laws.

Shoaib and Asif were banned amidst tall claims by the PCB that they were keen to set an example and that there was no place for cheaters in the game.

The bowlers had returned home in disgrace from India, which hosted the Champions Trophy in October-November, after it was revealed that the duo had tested positive in out of competition tests conducted by the Board before the event.

A dope tribunal, headed by Barrister Shahid Hamid, was set up to probe the scandal. The tribunal ruled that the bowlers could not satisfy the members that they had taken the banned substance inadvertently while handing them the bans.

The ruling was welcomed by International Cricket Council which praised the PCB and the tribunal for their handling of the case and for imposing the penalties. — PTI



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