June 25: If you do the crime, you have to do the time: that is the message that the ICC has sent out to Sri Lankan opener Upul Tharanga for failing a drug test during the 2011 World Cup. The governing body has slapped him with a three-month suspension from all cricket and cricket-related activities.
However, the ICC took cognizance of Tharanga's claim that the offence was not deliberate and the suspension was back dated to begin on May 9, 2011. The reprieve therefore indicates that Tharanga will be available for selection on August 9.
An apologetic Tharanga released a statement soon after the verdict was announced. "I apologise to the fans and followers of Sri Lanka cricket for inadvertently committing an offence. I hope my fellow sportsmen will learn from my experience and be more vigilant when taking medical treatment, so that their careers do not suffer in the way that mine has."
As part of an ICC random testing arrangement, Tharanga was obliged to provide a urine sample after the semi-final between Sri Lanka and New Zealand on March 29. His sample was tested by a WADA accredited laboratory and found to contain Prednisone and Prednisolone, which are 'Specified Substances' under WADA's prohibited list and are banned from being used in-competition.
According to an ICC release, the anti-doping tribunal accepted Tharanga's claim that he had ingested the substances by drinking a herbal remedy given to him to ease discomfort caused by a long-standing shoulder injury.
Tharanga pleaded guilty to the offence at an early stage in the proceedings and, as mandated under the ICC Code, the tribunal disqualified the rankings points he earned from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
Tharanga retains the right to appeal against the tribunal's decision and must do so within three weeks of receiving the decision.