Johannesburg: Australia's star leg spinner Shane Warne faced the end of his glittering career on Tuesday when he failed a drugs test and was banished from his country's World Cup squad.
The 33-year-old, who was heading back to Australia later on Tuesday, tested positive for a banned substance after using a diuretic which aids weight-loss but he insisted he would try and clear his name in an effort to return to the six-week tournament. The shock revelation was the latest body blow to the World Cup following England's threatened boycott of their scheduled match in Zimbabwe and a long-running wrangle over player contracts.
"I'm shocked because I do not take performance-enhancing drugs and never have and do not condone them in any way, shape or form," said Warne who was withdrawn from the Australian team who were facing Pakistan in their World Cup opener at the Wanderers here on Tuesday. The first sample was taken in Sydney but the B-sample will be tested on his return to Melbourne and the leg-spinner, who had already said that this would be his last World Cup as he intended to concentrate on his Test career, is adamant that he wants to clear his name. Warne was accompanied at the Johannesburg press conference by Australian Cricket Board (ACB) chief executive James Sutherland as the player insisted on his innocence saying the tablet he took was not performance-enhancing.
"I'm proud to be in the shape I'm in at the moment which is due to nothing other than hard work and looking after myself with diet," Warne said. "I did take a fluid tablet before my comeback game in Sydney which I did not know contained a prohibited substance," added Warne who recovered from a severe shoulder injury to take his place in what will be his last World Cup having been man of the match in the final four years ago at Lord's when Australia won the title. "I was shocked and absolutely devastated to be told yesterday (Monday) of the test sample that was collected in Australia on the 22nd of January," Warne told reporters. "It indicated the presence of a prohibited substance. The testing procedures are not complete until my B sample is fully examined later this week in Australia.
"The tablet actually dehydrates you and gets rid of any excess fluid in your body and, as I understand it, is not performance-enhancing in any way. "I've decided to return home in the best interests of the team in the World Cup campaign and to address the situation personally, which the ACB is very supportive of. "As I've said, I've never taken any performance-enhancing drugs and I'm confident this matter will be cleared up very soon." Warne has taken 491 Test match wickets in his career as well as 291 in one-day internationals.