PCB chief warns of zero tolerance for doping

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan's cricket chief has vowed to take a zero tolerance approach to doping, but said Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif will be allowed to fight their cases through checks on their 'B' samples.

"We have zero tolerance as doping is a very serious thing and we would deal with it in a flawless manner," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf told AFP on Tuesday.

"But we will give every chance to our players," added Ashraf, who took over two weeks ago when previous chairman Shaharyar Khan quit in a row over the team captaincy.

Pacemen Akhtar and Asif tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone Monday and were called home from the Champions Trophy in India, the latest in a string of controversies to hit Pakistan.

Under International Cricket Council (ICC) rules, the minimum ban for a first doping offence is two years, but since the tests were conducted internally by the PCB the home board would deal with the matter, Ashraf said.

He did not give any likely timeframe for a ban.

Ashraf also clarified that the players' 'B' samples had not yet been tested, contrary to his indications on Monday when he said that Pakistan had received "reconfirmation" of the positive results.

"When we were told about the positive tests on the 'A' samples of both the players, we actually asked for reconfirmation of the 'A' samples themselves. The second sample is yet to be examined," he said.

World Anti-doping Agency rules state that the 'B' sample is only examined after alleged offenders appeal against the results of the first test. The second sample is then examined before the players. The two Pakistani cricketers have not yet lodged an appeal.

Ashraf said the PCB would give Akhtar and Asif its full support.

"They are our best players and we would give them a full chance to give their viewpoint when they appear before the doping tribunal," assured Ashraf, who said a lawyer, doctor and a former cricketer were likely to be named in the tribunal soon.

Meanwhile, Sports Medicine Association of Pakistan (SMAP) president Danish Zaheer said there were possible excuses for the two pacemen.

"Nandrolone is normally taken under medical supervision as it is used in injectable form but recent theories suggest this substance is naturally produced in athletes' bodies," Zaheer said in a statement from Brunei.

Zaheer, also a vice president of the Asian Federation of Sports Medicine, said Akhtar and Asif can be helped to avoid penalties.

"Both players can claim that they have bodies that normally produce such banned substances more than the prescribed quantity - that is a possible theory.

"A good doping expert can exploit loopholes in the system," said Zaheer.

Zaheer said British tennis player Greg Rusedski had been cleared on a second sample after initially testing positive for nandrolone in in 2004.


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