ICC hails Akhtar, Asif bans as ~~fine precedent~~

Published: Thursday, November 2, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Mohali:Cricket's world governing body has welcomed Pakistan's decision to ban fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif for drug abuse, saying it set a "fine precedent."

A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) tribunal on Wednesday banned Akhtar for two years and Asif for one year after the pair tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone ahead of the Champions Trophy in India.

"I have read the judgement handed down by the PCB Anti-Doping Commission and feel I must commend the group for its work," International Cricket Council president Percy Sonn said in a statement here on Thursday.

"It is a good judgement, well written, very professionally done and they have made constant reference to the guidelines laid down in the PCB's anti-doping code.

"The PCB has done extremely well in handling this matter in such an efficient manner and its strong stand against doping is a fine precedent.

"From an ICC perspective it is very satisfactory."

Sonn, a South African lawyer who took charge of the ICC in July this year, hoped other Test nations will follow Pakistan's lead in punishing drug cheats.

"I would now urge all members not already engaged in their own testing regimes to adopt such a process as soon as possible so cricket can show just how committed it is to being known as a drug-free sport," he said.

"It is a tragedy that the careers of two cricketers have been tarnished in this way but, at the same time, the judgement emphasises that cricket has a zero tolerance of drug use.

"That is the idea behind the ICC's drug-testing regime at all our events since 2002 and our adoption of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code in July of this year."

The PCB said both Akhtar and Asif have the right to appeal or ask for a review of their punishments.

The two-year ban on Akhtar, 31, is the heaviest ever for a cricketer found guilty of taking drugs. Asif, 23, secured a lesser punishment because he was a "relative newcomer" who had never been tested previously, the PCB tribunal report said.


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