PCB chief influenced doping verdict: Report

Published: Saturday, December 9, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:The Shoaib Akhtar-Mohammad Asif doping saga runs into deeper controversy with a startling revelation that the current Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman had unsuccessfully tried to influence the Anti-Doping Commission verdict, which held the fast-bowling duo guilty of using a banned substance, but got his way in securing them exonerated by the Appellate Tribunal.

A PCB-appointed Anti-Doping Commission headed by lawyer Mr Shahid Hamid had found Shoaib and Asif guilty of having used nandrolone, a banned substance, and banished them from the game for two years and one year respectively.

But later, an Appellate Tribunal headed by a retired Judge of the Pakistan Supreme Court had exonerated the two fast bowlers of the doping charges and lifted the ban imposed on them.

Lahore-based newspaper The Nation today reported that ''incontrovertible evidence, in the form of a letter signed by PCB Chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf, shows that the Board attempted to influence the judgment of the Anti-Doping Commission headed by Barrister Shahid Hamid, with Intikhab Alam and Dr Waqar Ahmed as members.''

The report said the PCB chairman was not happy with the Anti-Doping Commission decision to ban Shoaib and Asif but he went along with the letter of the law at that point, hoping that he would be able to bend the Commission to his way of ''dispensing justice'' through the weight of his office.

It said Mr Hamid had confirmed to have received a signed letter from the PCB Chairman on October 28 after the Commission had been through most of its statement-recording of the accused and witnesses, cross examination and evidence-gathering and just three days before announcing its judgment.

''Further questions to Shahid Hamid and probes through other leads revealed that the PCB chairman had been directly involved in trying to subvert the due process and in swaying the judgment of first the Anti-Doping Commission without success, but finally getting his way with the Appeals Committee,'' the newspaper went on to say.

The report also quoted Mr Hamid as saying that he resisted the pressure brought to bear on him and his Commission had arrived at its verdict in a manner ''most forthright and a correct application of the law.''

Mr Hamid said he was so incensed at receiving the missive from the PCB chairman that he had told Moeen Afzal, a member of the PCB's Advisory Council, that the contents of the letter were ''insulting, out of order and tantamount to influencing the judgment of the Commission'', besides asking Afzal to pass on the message to the PCB chairman ''not to send any further communication till after the Commission had reached its verdict.''

Dr Ashraf, a nephrologist by vocation, had also told the Commission in his letter that ''nandrolone found in the two samples is quite consistent with the use of contaminated food supplements''.

But, when the Commission consulted two eminent physicians -- Dr Javed Akram, Professor of Medicine in the King Edward Medical University and Dr Shabbar Raza, endocrinologist at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital -- it was told that the level of nandrolone present in both cases cannot be produced endogenously (that is by the body itself) and the supplement that Akhtar and Asif said to have used did not contain the steroid, the newspaper said.

''There was suspicion that the steroids were consumed in injectable form. And since such ministering of steroids stays in the system for months, this is perhaps why Dr Danish Zameer -- the dissenting member out of three in the Appeals Committee and a World Anti-Doping Agency accredited doctor knowledgeable about steroids -- insisted on running the tests again,'' the report said.

Meanwhile, Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, head of the three-member Appeals Committee that exonerated Shoaib and Asif and overturned the two and one year ban imposed on the duo by Anti-Doping Commission, said ''there was no pressure on him whatsoever''.

''Not a word from the PCB chairman,'' the newspaper quoted Justice Ebrahim as saying when asked if there had been any communication from the PCB similar to that made to Barrister Shahid Hamid.

The report, however, claimed that the discussion amongst the Appeals Committee members mostly veered towards taking a ''patriotic'' stance because it was suggested that Pakistan had been vilified on the ball-tampering issue and two of its best bowlers were now being targeted through the doping case.

Transcript of the PCB Chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf's signed letter addressed to Barrister Shahid Hamid, Chairman Anti-Doping Commission, as released by the newspaper.

''With due respect, I would like the Commission to consider the following points before reaching a final verdict:

1. Players must have full opportunity to be legally represented;
2. Notes to be taken of their evidence and these notes should be sent in written form to the legal counsel of the players so that they can give comments hereby avoiding any misunderstanding of their testimony;
3. The analytical material must be evaluated by independent expert appointed by the disciplinary commission;
4. The PCB team doctor, PCB coach and any other coaches and doctors involved officially or unofficially must be asked to give testimony. This is particularly important in this light of the fact that the concentration of Nandrolone found in the two samples is quite consistent with the use of contaminated food supplements;
5. Independent experts in the field must be asked to testify before the Commission before a final decision is reached;
6. A final meeting should be held with the players to give them opportunity to make final representations if they so wish with the aid of their legal counsel.


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