Akhtar to appeal career-threatening ban: Doctor

Published: Thursday, November 2, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar will appeal against a two-year drugs ban, his doctor said, as a tribunal's report showed the paceman took vitamins and herbal medicines without telling team staff.

"Akhtar is devastated by the decision and he is definitely going to appeal against the ban," the controversial fast bowler's personal doctor and close friend Tauseef Razzaq told AFP on Thursday.

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) tribunal banned Akhtar, 31, for two years and fellow fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 23, for one on Wednesday after they tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.

The punishment could end Akhtar's incident-filled career, as he will be 33 years old when he takes the new ball again for Pakistan and is already prone to injuries.

Enigmatic Akhtar -- known as the "Rawalpindi Express" after bowling the quickest delivery ever recorded in 2003 at just over 100 mph (161 kmh) -- has refused to comment since the decision.

But his doctor Razzaq said the bowler was consulting his lawyer about appealing to the high court against the ban as he felt the decision was unjust and career-threatening."

Razzaq said he and other medical counsel tried their best to convince the tribunal that Akhtar was innocent.

"There are a number of examples where athletes were given the benefit of the doubt for using substances unknowingly and there are studies by renowned universities of the world on whose basis Akhtar should have been cleared," said Tauseef.

Akhtar said last month that he had never "knowingly" taken performance-enhancing drugs. He and Asif both waived their right to have their "B samples" tested before the tribunal handed down its verdict.

Under International Cricket Council (ICC) regulations no sanction is imposed for doping if the player is able to establish that he did not know or suspect he took a banned drug, the tribunal said in its report into the scandal.

But the 19-page report also said that Akhtar took supplements, vitamins and herbal medicines on "general wisdom" and never told the team staff and doctor about their use.

"Akhtar told the tribunal he was taking vitamins T-BOMB II, Promax-50 and Viper" obtained from a shop, from London and from friends, the report said.

"Akhtar said that he had been taking them since 1999 on the basis of general wisdom based on his contacts with friends and others and that he had never consulted even his medical counsels."

The bowler also admitted he failed to tell coach Bob Woolmer, team physiotherapist Darryn Lifson or PCB medical advisor Sohail Saleem "because they have never asked him and none of them were banned items."

His medical counsel also said Akthar had been taking a herbal medicine called kushta, or tribulus terrestris, which he said was not banned, the report added.

Akthar tested negative on two previous occasions in 2003 and 2004.

He further said that he had never seen a WADA (World Anti-doping Agency) list of banned substances or WADA's Athlete Guide which PCB officials said were given to players prior to the England tour in August 2006.

The report defended the lighter ban on Asif because he was a "relative newcomer" who had never been tested previously and that there was some doubt that he had ever been given the list of banned drugs.

Physio Lifson said Asif had stopped using a vitamin supplement bought locally "as soon as he was told to do so", adding that Asif also had little understanding of English.

The pair now have the right to appeal.


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