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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 12:13 GMT
Pakistan duo win drugs ban appeal
Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif
The appeal committee voted 2-1 in favour of lifting the ban
Pakistan fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif have had their bans for doping lifted with immediate effect.

A tribunal banned 31-year-old Shoaib for two years and Asif, 23, for one year on 1 November for testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.

But a three-man Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appeals committee decided neither player had knowingly taken the drug.

The International Cricket Council said it would not be making a statement until it had seen the PCB judgment.

But the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has already said it will investigate the decision and plans to hold discussions with cricket's governing body.

Pakistan officials did not anticipate any further developments.

"I categorically say the chapter is closed," PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf said.

I have already missed a lot of cricket through injury and now want to play as soon as possible

Shoaib Akhtar

"Since the tests were conducted out of competition, any reservations from the ICC or Wada will not affect players. Why be afraid of the ICC or Wada when we have followed the legal procedure?"

Shoaib, who inspired Pakistan to a Test series win over England last winter, was elated to be given the chance to resume an international career many felt was over when news of the two-year ban emerged.

"I am breathing again," he enthused. "My life was jolted no end by the ban. I can't describe the feeling.

"I have already missed a lot of cricket through injury and now want to play as soon as possible."

Following Tuesday's ruling, Asif said he intended to return to international action as soon as possible and was targeting an immediate call-up for the current one-day series against West Indies.

"I am fit to play international cricket," he insisted.

But Pakistan have resisted the temptation to recall the pair for Thursday's second one-day international with West Indies.

Both players insisted they did not knowingly take the drug, claiming it was present in supplements they had taken.

It is clearly, plainly evident that Shoaib nor Asif were ever warned or cautioned against taking supplements

Fakhruddin Ibrahim
Appeal judge

The appeals committee, headed by retired judge Fakhruddin Ibrahim, accepted their defence after carrying out its own investigations.

"The committee holds that Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif will not be deemed to have committed a doping offence," said Ibrahim.

"The ban and punishment imposed by the earlier tribunal is hereby set aside as being contrary to the provision of laws."

Ibrahim added it was "clearly, plainly evident that Shoaib nor Asif were ever warned or cautioned against taking supplements".

Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said he would have to wait for more information before commenting on the case.

"Our normal procedure is to request the file, review it, liaise with the Internatioinal Cricket Council and then decide whether it or we should appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport," he said.

However, he emphasised that the offence was one of strict liability, meaning "it doesn't really matter whether the substance was ingested knowingly or not".

The two players were recalled from the Champions Trophy in India in October after they tested positive in out-of-competition tests conducted by the PCB.

SEE ALSO
Shoaib & Asif wait for comeback
05 Dec 06 |  Pakistan
Rawalpindi one-dayer washed out
05 Dec 06 |  Cricket
Q&A: Nandrolone
16 Oct 06 |  Health


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