Shamed Warne gets sympathy from World Cup captains
Published: Thursday, February 13, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
Warne returns home, says he is innocent of drug abuse
Johannesburg: World Cup captains rushed to the defence of disgraced Australian leg spinner Shane Warne on Thursday, saying cricketers were not always aware about which drugs were banned. Warne's career hangs in the balance after he failed a drugs test and withdrew from the World Cup to await the results of tests on his 'B' sample. The leg spinner, 33, voted one of the five greatest players of all time by cricket bible Wisden, faces a two-year ban if found guilty. Warne claimed he took a tablet, given by his mother, to reduce fluid around his shoulder ahead of a One-day game against England on January 22. New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said most cricketers knew very little about the medication to take while being treated for injuries out of competition. "It's very difficult when you're out of competition and you're out of the umbrella of your medical panel," Fleming said. "It opens up an area which we've probably got to make a bit more thorough about because there is the opportunity for players to make mistakes. "I'm extremely shocked and surprised at the situation and I hope, knowing Shane that I do, that it works out for him. "There are risks and the players have to understand, probably more so when they're out of competition, about exactly what needs to be done." Cricketers are being drug-tested for the first time at a World Cup in accordance with South African laws. Pakistan's Waqar Younis and Saurav Ganguly of India also voiced similar concerns. "During the off-season when the players go home, some to small towns, it is very difficult to judge whether a medicine is banned or not when you fall sick," Waqar said. "You usually take what the doctor gives you. Most doctors will not know what drugs are banned for sportsmen." Ganguly said Warne's exit from the World Cup shocked his team. "We were quite stunned when we heard the news and the first thing that raced through my mind was which medicines I had taken in the past," the Indian captain said. "The Indian team has been on the road together for quite some time so we are lucky in that respect since we have Andrew (physiotherapist Andrew Leipus) with us. "I was down with a cold and fever for a few days after we landed in South Africa and was under heavy medication. But Andrew knew what I could take." Diuretics, which Warne took, are often used to help weight loss or as a masking agent for other drugs. Warne lost around 13 kilogrammes (29 pounds) in the past year as part of a fitness regime. But he denied the tablet was a way to getting around the shoulder injury.