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PCB bans Akhtar for 2 yrs, Asif for 1

| November 1, 2006, 9:02 PM IST

New Delhi: A Pakistan Cricket Board inquiry committee has banned the Pakistan pace duo of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif for two years and one year respectively for taking a banned steroid – Nandrolone. The decision came after PCB’s Drugs Inquiry Tribunal delivered a 19-page statement detailing its findings on Wednesday. The two players have seven days to appeal the verdict. PCB had constituted a three-member inquiry committee comprising barrister Shahid Hamid, former skipper Intikhab Alam and Dr Waqar Ahmed to look into the matter. Justifying the ban the chairman of the panel Drugs Inquiry Tribunal Shahid Hamid said: “We gave a full chance to both the pacemen to fight their cases and after a thorough inquiry we feel they failed to prove their innocence. The process of doping was investigated carefully. We made sure the tests were conducted properly, samples reached the laboratory in Malaysia safely and there was no error in testing in the laboratory.” “Both the players were satisfied and accepted the tests and gave their point of view but after a thorough inquiry and bound by the Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) we reached the decision.” The ban, effective from October 15, means that they will miss the World Cup that will be played in the West Indies next March-April. They cannot participate in any level of cricket organized by the PCB or international competitions. It also means that world may have already seen the last of the Rawalpindi Express as he is already 31 and by the time the punishment ends he will be 33. However, Asif would be 24 when his one-year ban ends. "We are not convinced that there was no fault of negligence on part of Shoaib Akhtar. We hold he has committed a doping offence as defined in clause 4.1 of the PCB anti-doping regulations," a statement released by the tribunal and signed by all three members said. The operations director of the PCB, Salim Altaf, said that there is zero tolerance for players who use banned substances. PAGE_BREAK Reacting to the news, former Pakistan skipper Imran Khan said that Shoaib’s career is effectively over. However, he also added that the decision to ban Shoaib for two years was harsh. "Considering that Shane Warne got one year ban, it is a bit harsh. I do not know what transpired (here I am talking from pure ignorance), I do not know what went on during the hearing," Imran said. He also described it as a major set back to Pakistan’s World Cup campaign. "From Pakistan cricket's point of view, this is a big blow to their World Cup chances," he said. Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif had tested positive for Nandrolone in an internal dope test conducted by the PCB before the start of the ICC Champions Trophy. The PCB had sent the samples of 29 players to a World Anti Doping Agency accredited laboratory in Malaysia before the tournament. While the permissible limit of Nandrolone is two nanograms per millilitre of urine, Shoaib’s sample had 14.2 nanograms per per millilitre of urine and Asif’s sample had 13.6 nanograms per millilitre of urine. They faced a two-year ban under International Cricket Council (ICC) anti-doping regulations, but since they tested positive out of competition, the tribunal had the authority to reduce the length of the suspension, which was done in the case of Asif. Why the sentence was not reduced in case of Shoaib, who has been Pakistan’s bowling spearhead, is a mystery and likely to raise a storm. Akhtar and Asif had appeared before the tribunal for two successive days on October 27 and 28 and were questioned by the members for more than two hours. They had already recorded their statements and denied taking the banned steroid knowingly. Both pacers had also declined the offer of a test on their B samples, implying that they did not question the results. Shoaib was reported to have said that was using a local medicine called 'pushta' and Asif had apparently taken a medicine while playing county cricket in England. The 'Rawalpindi Express' made his Test against the West Indies in 1997 and has picked 165 wickets in 42 Tests at an average of 23.33. He has had a checkered career. His chest-pumping run-up and slingshot action were one of the most delightful sights on the field. The right-arm pacer was one of the three express fast bowlers in contemporary cricket to measure 100 mph with his deliveries, Australia's Brett Lee and New Zealander Shane Bond being the other two. But the speed demon also had trouble with his action, which was found to be illegal in 2000.

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