Shoaib, Asif positive for dope
Shoaib, Asif in dope net, Withdrawn from Champions Trophy 
Karachi/Jaipur, October 16
Pakistan cricket plunged into another scandal today with its spearhead fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif testing positive for a banned drug after which they were recalled home from Jaipur and now face the risk of being banned for two years.

The star bowlers, who tested positive for anabolic steroid nandrolone in an internal test conducted by the Pakistan Cricket Board last month, were withdrawn from the high-profile Champions Trophy once the positive results were announced this morning.

Both the A and B samples of the bowlers showed traces of the performance-enhancing drug and the PCB promptly decided to set up a committee to look into the scandal and recommend disciplinary action.

The positive results, which the PCB received yesterday from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited lab in Kuala Lumpur, were revealed just a day before Pakistan were to play their opening Champions Trophy match against Sri Lanka in Jaipur.

PCB Chairman Nasim Ashraf said it was the first ever instance of a Pakistani player testing positive for a banned drug and it was taking the matter very seriously. “We are taking this issue very seriously. It is the first time that our players have been found positive and we will take action accordingly,” he said at a press conference in Islamabad.

Shoaib and Asif both face a possible two-year ban from the game under the ICC anti-doping policy for a first time offence. 

However, ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed said the games’ governing body did not come into the picture as the PCB had conducted the tests on its own under the WADA protocol.

The ICC also approved the selection of left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman and all-rounder Yasir Arafat as replacements for the two players.

The tainted fast bowlers flew back home by an evening flight to Lahore while their replacements would be in a position to play in Pakistan’s second match in Mohali on October 25.

Shoaib, on his part, said he was innocent and had not taken any drug knowingly. “I cannot say much at this time about what has happened but I just want to assure everyone that I am innocent of doing anything I shouldn’t have,” the star bowler said.

“The President of Pakistan has asked me not to comment in any detail at this stage and I want to respect his wishes,” he said in a short message posted on a cricket portal. 

This is the second major dope scandal to hit international cricket after Australian spin great Shane Warne tested positive for a diuretic just before the start of the 2003 World Cup. 
A swarm of lensmen waited patiently at the Delhi airport, scanning every car coming into the departure arena. It was a futile exercise. The Pakistanis had done their homework well. The pacers were taken to the arrival gate, far from the probing eyes of the world and rushed into a lift. Minutes later they were on the plane to Lahore. 

The Pakistani team had got the shocking news on Sunday night itself and when the team visited a local restaurant for a Chinese dinner that night, hotel sources said skipper Younis Khan and his men looked unusually subdued. Akhtar and Asif attended the dinner but were silent throughout. 

On Monday morning, when news reached the duo that they had to leave the hotel at the earliest, Akhtar and Asif looked dazed.


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