Australia likely to expand drug tests

Published: Friday, April 20, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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 Sydney: Cricket authorities are expected to expand the number of random drug tests after fast bowler Duncan Spencer received an 18-month ban in the first doping case in the sport in Australia.

Spencer admitted on Thursday that he had taken Nandrolone to help his recovery from a back injury that had kept him out of cricket since 1994.

The 29-year-old tested positive in a random drugs control following Western Australia's Mercantile Mutual Cup One-day final defeat to New South Wales in Sydney in February.

"These injections were prescribed to me to improve my everyday life as I was suffering from chronic pain that I had been suffering for the last six years," Spencer said.

"The medication was not prescribed for sport, at that time I did not believe I would be able to bowl again, let alone at the first class level."

The ACB's anti-doping committee, chaired by Justice William Gerard of the Victorian State Supreme Court and including Dr Susan White of the Australian Sports Drug Medical Advisory Committee and Justice Glen Williams from the Queensland State Court of Appeal, obviously took that into account as they could have banned him for two years.

Now he will only miss the next Australian summer of cricket. But ACB spokesman Brendan McClements hinted the Board might test more players in future.

"It may well be that we need to look at increasing the number of tests," he said. The ACB has tested 199 players since 1998.

Spencer was born in England but moved to Australia as a five-year-old. He played two first class games for Kent in 1993 and four county games in 1994. He played for Western Australia in the same period until his back injury forced him out at a time when he was considered a potential Test player.

"No sport would be pleased that one of its players had been found guilty of this type of offence but I am reassured by the fact that this player was identified and dealt with quickly through the ACB's testing programme and anti-doping procedures," ACB chief executive Malcolm Speed said after the hearing.

"This decision sends the clear message that cricket will not tolerate any player taking prohibited substances and will move swiftly to deal with any person found to have breached the ACB's anti-doping policy."

Nandrolone is an anabolic steroid used to boost muscles and to increase strength and power. It also speeds up recovery time after injury, allowing users to train harder.

The drug can stay in the body for up to 12 months.

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