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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 November 2006, 07:41 GMT
Doping bans are harsh says Imran
Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif
Shoaib and Asif were Pakistan's first-choice new ball pair
Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has described Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif's drugs bans as harsh.

Imran and other former players have claimed the bans will deal a major blow to Pakistan's chances of lifting the World Cup next April.

Shoaib, 31, will serve a two-year ban and Asif, 23, a one-year ban after testing positive for nandrolone.

"There has to be an example set but without knowing the judgment details I would say it's harsh," Imran said.

"Their ban will severely reduce Pakistan's chances in next year's World Cup in the West Indies," added Imran, who led Pakistan to their only Cup win in 1992.

The bans were the first involving performance-enhancing drugs in international cricket.

Shoaib's ban was also the heaviest ever for a cricketer found guilty of taking drugs.

He was handed a two-year ban because the three-man panel believed he knew he was taking banned drugs.

Asif received a lighter ban because the panel believed he did not understand what he was taking and stopped as soon as his physiotherapist told him to.

The pair can appeal against the ban to the Pakistan Cricket Board within the next 30 days or raise the ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

Pakistan's chief selector Wasim Bari said the ban was "tragic" for Pakistan's chances in the World Cup.

"Both Akhtar and Asif are experienced, wicket-taking bowlers and their absence means Pakistan will be without key strike bowlers," said Bari, also a previous Pakistan skipper.

Former captain and coach Javed Miandad said the ban spelled an the end of Shoaib's career.

"Akhtar will find it very difficult to stage a comeback and two years will make a lot of difference to his bowling.

"But Asif is young and he can stage a comeback," added Miandad.

Percy Sonn, president of the International Cricket Council, admitted it was a shame for the cricketers' careers.

"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," said Sonn.

SEE ALSO
Final chapter for Shoaib?
01 Nov 06 |  Pakistan
Pakistan pair hit by doping bans
01 Nov 06 |  Cricket
Pakistan pair fail doping tests
16 Oct 06 |  Cricket
Q&A: Nandrolone
16 Oct 06 |  Health
ICC Champions Trophy 2006
11 Oct 06 |  Future tour dates


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