Pak captain Inzamam backs drug charge duo

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Banned Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul Haq has backed team-mates Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif to be cleared of doping charges, saying they must have taken banned drugs accidentally.

Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan agreed that they were likely the victims of ignorance, but he said that all of Pakistan's players were warned to consult doctors before taking any medicine.

"I hope they have taken a medicine inadvertently and the medical panel would consider that, because they are our main hopes for next year's World Cup," Inzamam told reporters in Karachi.

Akhtar and Asif were sent home from the Champions Trophy in India on Monday after testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone, and are set to face a PCB disciplinary tribunal later this week.

The three-man tribunal is likely to be named later Wednesday. It is expected to include former Test captain and coach Intikhab Alam, a doping expert and a lawyer.

The minimum penalty for a first doping offence under International Cricket Council (ICC) rules is a two-year ban but the PCB says the home board will determine its own punishment.

Inzamam, who is currently serving a ban of four one-day internationals for bringing the game into disrepute during the Oval Test fiasco against England in August, said the pair must get a fair hearing.

"I don't think they would suffer the worst of fates and (hope they) would be available to play for Pakistan in the World Cup," said the 36-year-old. Pakistan are considered among the leading contenders for the tournament in the West Indies next March and April.

Separately ex-PCB chief Khan, who resigned two weeks ago amid a row over the team captaincy, said he believed Akhtar and Asif would not have taken steroids on purpose.

"We had warned the players, especially all those who were injured, they must consult doctors before taking any medicine and it's hugely disappointing that two key players are now facing charges," Khan told AFP from Lahore.

The former diplomat added: "Warnings were included in their central contracts as well. But they did not heed them -- in fact players do not read their contracts."

However Khan said that it was up to the tribunal to assess why the pair had tested positive, "whether they have taken it to cure their injuries or it's for the enhancement of performance."

Khan's replacement Nasim Ashraf said on Tuesday that he would take a zero tolerance approach to doping, while adding that Akhtar and Asif would be allowed to fight their cases through checks on their 'B' samples.

Meanwhile the former chief dismissed accusations by former captain Imran Khan that the timing of the tests was wrong and that they should have come before the naming of the squad for the Champions Trophy.

"The ICC has a clear policy on doping and had directed member countries to have dope tests on the players, and that is why we conducted tests in late September," he said.

Khan's last two months as PCB chairman were mired in controversy, beginning with the Oval Test when Pakistan refused to take to the field to protest a penalty for alleged ball-tampering.

The ICC cleared Inzamam of altering the condition of the ball but found him guilty of bringing the game into disrepute, leaving him with the four-match ban that has kept him out of the Champions Trophy.

Khan quit on October 6 after Younis Khan caused further chaos by very publicly declining to be a "dummy captain" Inzamam. New chairman Ashraf then reinstated Younis.

Pakistan however proved they could overcome the loss of three key players when they defeated Sri Lanka by four wickets in their opening Champions Trophy match at Jaipur on Tuesday.


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