Johannesburg: Slapped a 12-month ban for taking a banned diuretic that could also mask steroids, battered Australian leg spinner Shane Warne got support from unexpected quarters with West Indian star Brian Lara emphatically stating Warne wasn't a "drugs" cheat. "Shane's a friend of mine and I can put my head on the block and say it has nothing to do with enhancing his performance," he said.
"His performances over the years are due to his ability and his commitment to cricket. We have got to be very careful with what we are saying to the world. I still have my fingers crossed it works out for him," Lara said. South African captain Shaun Pollock was equally sympathetic, but insisted rules had to be followed.
"Rules are rules. But with 500 Test wickets in sight, I am sure Warnie would want to come back after a year and finish his career on a high note," Pollock said. Indian captain Saurav Ganguly, preparing for Sunday's match against Namibia at Pietermaritzburg, said he felt sorry for Warne. "I feel sorry for him, he's a legend. This is a big thing in his career and it has come in what was his last World Cup. He's a champion performer," Ganguly said.