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Last Updated:  Saturday, 22 February, 2003, 11:00 GMT

Warne let off lightly
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

This is a sad day for cricket. I don't think anyone has done as much to encourage enthusiasm in the sport over the last decade as Shane Warne.

He resurrected the art of leg spin and created his own special brand of it.

But I think he has been let off lightly. I was talking to a former senior adminstrator of the Australian Cricket Board yesterday and he was under the impression it was mandatory to give a two-year ban for an offence like this.

These panels treat diuretics very seriously because they can be used as a masking agent for other substances.

Warne, as a full-time member of the Australian side, has an obligation to check about everything he takes
So it may be that the ACB believed Warne was naive and stupid in taking a tablet and not checking whether or not it was on the banned list.

I failed a drugs test as a cricketer when it was not as easy to find out what was banned and testing had only started.

I bought a cold remedy over the counter, had no idea it was banned and subsequently tested positive.

But Warne, as a full-time member of the Australian side, has an obligation to check out everything he takes.

On this occasion he decided he didn't have to.

The one-year ban does at least leave Warne's career open. If he had received a two-year ban that would probably have been it for him.

He's due to return to action next February and he will still only be 34.

Australia will have played four Test series by then, but two of them are against very minor opposition.

They will have the chance to bring a young spinner through. Yet if Warne does want to come back it's not that long a wait for him and he's massively strong and very fit.

There have been scandals throughout his illustrious career.

For example he once received an enormous amount of money to give up smoking and was then spotted having a fag behind the bike sheds.

He has had a chequered career off the field and some people will now be happy to see him struggling like this.





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