Challenge from Lee sparked off weight loss, says Warne

Published: Monday, February 17, 2003, 0:27 [IST]
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Sydney: High-profile Australian cricketer Shane Warne has yet to say why he took a diuretic pill but he has revealed that it was a challenge from teammate Brett Lee that sparked his physical transformation. Warne will this week learn if his cricket career is over when he goes before an Australian Cricket Board (ACB) anti-doping committee after testing positive to diuretics, a substance banned because of its ability to conceal performance- enhancing drugs. Vanity has been widely touted as a reason why Warne may have taken a pill supplied by his mother which he says caused the positive test and forced him home from the World Cup in southern Africa.

Warne has revealed in an interview with 'Inside Sport' magazine conducted before his test result became public that it was encouragement from Lee that started his fitness kick. Australian coach John Buchanan was thought to have initiated it when he publicly criticised Warne's fitness after the second Test loss to India in Kolkata in 2001. "It's to do with physical fitness - it's no secret that Warney's probably not one of the fittest characters running around in world cricket," Buchanan said at the time.

But Warne told Inside Sport it was Lee's insistence in the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) dressing rooms last summer that Warne joined him for extra fitness sessions that sparked his weight loss. He slashed his junk food intake and the physical changes continued on the tour to South Africa early last year as he realised he needed the extra fitness once Steve and Mark Waugh were dropped for that One-day series. "It felt strange," Warne said in the magazine article that hit the streets before the World Cup started.

"I thought: Geez, I'm the only one left, I'm the oldest bloke here so I'm probably next. "If I wanted to ensure that I kept playing I had to do the right things." Warne and his family have faced enormous scrutiny in the past week, but that is nothing new for the troubled superstar. "My life has sort of been a soap opera," he told the magazine. "There's always been a twist. My life's evolved in front of the public. It's been on show for everyone, the mistakes I've made, the good things I've done - they've been there for all to see.

"What it has been is interesting. I think in life and the journey you take, it's important to learn from it." Warne said he was extremely ignorant in his younger days. "I'm not saying I know everything now but I know a hell of a lot more - and I'm enjoying it," he said. "It's only been in the last 18 months that it's started to happen but I'm finally feeling like I'm Shane Warne again." If found guilty this week 33-year-old Warne faces a possible two-year ban from cricket, a blow that would almost certainly kill off his international career.

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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