~~Rusdeski, Christie got away, why can~~t Shoaib~~?

Published: Friday, November 3, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Citing the example of tennis stars Greg Rusdeski and Linford Christie, Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer said banned pacers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif can get their punishments reduced or even lifted if they appeal against the PCB Anti-doping Tribunal's verdict.

Urging the tainted duo to appeal at the earliest, Woolmer said the bowlers have to act fast as their presence was vital for Pakistan's World Cup prospects.

''Nandrolone is a hot issue in sport at the moment, and not just '' Woolmer told the Sydney Morning Herald.

''Both of these guys are vital to Pakistan cricket and I feel sorry for them. They would be devastated at the moment and I think they should look to appeal,'' he added.

Woolmer said there are several past examples of athletes testing for banned substances but getting away successfully. The Pakistan coach said though he accepted the Pakistan Cricket Board's decision but Shoaib and Asif should appeal in order to save their careers.

''There are many cases, up to 20, of sportsmen testing positive to nandrolone at higher levels and getting off. Rusedski and Christie are a couple. I understand the rules and the reason the tribunal banned them, but I think it would be sad to lose someone like Shoaib from the game, because he is very keen to play,'' he said.

Both Shoaib and Asif were withdrawn from the Champions Trophy in India after testing positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone.

The duo denied ever knowingly taking drugs but the PCB tribunal - consisting barrister Shahid Hamid, former Pakistan captain Intikhab Alam and Waqar Ahmed of the Pakistan Sports Board -- declared them guilty.

While Shoaib was handed a two-year ban, Asif will remain out of action for a year. Both the bowlers have already declared their intentions of appealing against the ban.

''This obviously leaves us in a tough position looking ahead to the World Cup, and it certainly had an effect on us in the Champions Trophy. I think in the first game we used the adversity to our advantage, but after a while it tends to sink in and weighs people down psychologically,'' the former South African coach said.


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