Friday is Warnes D-Day; more pills report is rubbish

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney: The hearing into Shane Warne's positive drug test would be held on Friday, the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) said on Wednesday. The ACB quickly moved on the inquiry formalities after it received the result of Warne's 'B' sample test confirming the positive return on Wednesday. The high-profile leg spin bowler faces being forced out of the game with a two-year ban if he is found guilty of using a banned diuretic, a stimulant, which can also conceal the use of steroids.

Australian Sports and Drug Agency (ASDA) spokesman Shawn Winnett said on Wednesday Warne had waived his right to lodge a technical complaint against its testing system, and the test result had been passed on to the ACB. Warne was informed of his 'B' sample result several days ago after initially testing positive to the banned diuretics hydrochlorthiazide and amiloride on January 22. "The process is now wrapped up from our end and it's now with the sport," Winnett said.

"It's up to the ACB now to convene its hearing. The athlete has seven days to make a submission if he has any concerns about the testing process. They can waive the right and it then moves on to the next step, which it has in this case." The ACB has appointed a three-person panel to hear the case - Queensland judge Glen Williams, former Test spinner Peter Taylor and medical specialist Susan White.

Australian media has reported that Warne took the diuretic pill after being badgered by his mother, who wanted her son to look good at a news conference prior to the team's departure for the World Cup. The ACB was put under pressure on Wednesday by doping authorities not to go soft on Warne at the hearing. The chairman of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) Dick Pound warned a "lenient" Board decision would put at risk Australia's reputation as a tough leader in the fight against doping. "I think Australia in general has to be very careful in a case like Warne's," Pound told the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday.

"There has been a long history of Australia accusing everyone, but your country doesn't have the same enthusiasm when your folks are involved. "Australia has to avoid that perception of going soft on its athletes while it attacks others like the Chinese." In 1998, four Chinese swimmers were banned for four years after testing positive to diuretics at the world championships in Perth. Pound, a Canadian lawyer and former vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, said he was unimpressed with Warne's explanation that his mother had given him a banned tablet. "Poisoned by his mother? It is good, very good.

It ranks up there with the one 'I got it from the toilet seat'," Pound said. Simon Rofe, the Australian Olympic Committee's lawyer and a pioneer in the drafting of anti-doping documentation, said the ACB had altered a model anti-doping policy used by Australia's major sporting organisations, allowing it to grant greater leniency to athletes. Rofe said cricket's document allows Warne to plead he took a diuretic for reasons of vanity - not for recovery from injury or performance enhancement - meaning he may escape penalty.

Rofe said he believed the ACB's "exceptional circumstances" clause was poorly worded and would assist Warne in beating the charge. "If Warne can establish that he had an honest and reasonable belief he was not taking a diuretic, he gets off scot-free," Rofe told the 'Sydney Morning Herald'. A clause of the ACB's anti-doping code reads: "Exceptional circumstances exist if the player held an honest and reasonable belief in a state of facts which, if they existed, would mean that the player did not commit a doping offence."

In another development, ASDA chief executive John Mendoza dismissed a report that Warne's drug test indicated he had taken more than one banned tablet as "a nonsense". Mendoza, whose organisation conducted Warne's drug test, said the test couldn't determine if multiple tablets were present in the player's system. "The assertion in the media today that there were multiple tablets because the levels were so high, is a nonsense," Mendoza told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "From an analytical point of view we wouldn't be able to determine whether he'd taken one, two or 22 tablets from that particular sample."

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