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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 10:06 GMT

Warne shock: The fall-out
Shane Warne
Warne has protested his innocence
Shane Warne has been called many things in his cricket career - good and bad.

And it is certainly not the first time he has been accused of tarnishing the name of cricket.

During the wide-ranging match-fixing inquiries in 2000 he was forced to admit he took money from an Indian bookmaker six years previously.

Warne provided pitch and weather information information during a tour of Pakistan and Sri Lanka and was paid A$5,000 for his efforts.

It was also in 2000 that he was forced to admit to having lewd telephone conversations with a 22-year-old woman while playing cricket for Hampshire.

This is a man, after all, who has a wife and children.

The fact that it is Ricky Ponting rather than Warne who captains Australia at the World Cup owes much to the colourful spinner's less-than-perfect track record.

All the same, the news of his positive drug test at the World Cup is as unexpected as it is confusing.

Supporters will ask how such an experienced player, and committed anti-drug campaigner, managed inadvertently to consume a banned substance.

And they will want to know what benefit a banned substance would bring to a player so full of skill.

South Africa was poised to be a fitting stage for Warne to play out the final act of his glorious one-day career - but this is a twist no-one wanted.

Some feared Warne's international career was over when he dislocated his shoulder in December.

Shane Warne holds the World Cup in 1999
Warne shone in the 1999 World Cup in England

That he fought back to fitness so quickly was good news for Australia and - although supporters of opposing may disagree - good news for the tournament.

Now, inevitably, a cloud has been cast over the legitimacy of his recovery.

Admittedly Warne has voluntarily chosen to opt out of the tournament to clear his name.

He could have continued playing until the results of his 'B' sample were known, and been involved in Australia's crucial opening match against Pakistan.

Australia probably have more strength in depth than any other team at the World Cup, so the loss of Warne is unlikely to leave them with a dearth of talent.

But he is a talisman for them, and also a figurehead for the sport of cricket.

A World Cup already strained by political tension over Kenya and Zimbabwe hardly needs the shadow of drug abuse looming over it.

Links to more Australia stories


Warne to quit one-day game
22 Jan 03 |  Australia
Shane Warne
06 Jan 03 |  Player Profiles

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