With their international careers getting a fresh lease of life, fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif greeted the lifting of their doping bans with absolute joy on Tuesday.
“It is the best news I have received in a long, long time and I can’t tell you how happy I am. It is like being alive again,” Shoaib said soon after a 2-1 verdict by an appeal committee cleared him and Asif of doping offences.
Asif, 23, also felt the same way after his one-year doping ban was lifted by the committee headed by Justice Fakhruddin G Ebrahim.
“My life was ruined by the ban but thankfully it is over now. I believe that the prayers of my mother and the whole nation were the reason why I was cleared. I am naturally delighted because I have been found innocent and can resume playing cricket for Pakistan,” Asif told this correspondent.
Shoaib and Asif were banned last month after testing positive for nandrolone, an illegal anabolic steroid, before the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy in India. Shoaib was banned for two years while Asif got a one-year ban from an Anti-Doping Tribunal formed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
The pace duo was suspended by the PCB and withdrawn from Pakistan’s squad for the Champions Trophy, the second most important competition after the World Cup. The bowlers also missed the home Test series against the West Indies which Pakistan recently won 2-0.
But now they can make a return to the national team as early as in the third One-day International (ODI) against the West Indies to be played in Lahore on December 10.
Asif says he is fully ready to make a comeback. “It depends on the national selection committee whether I can play in the ODI series (against the West Indies) but if you ask me then I’m ready,” he said.
Shoaib, 31, is also expecting a recall from the selectors but presently he is just basking in the decision that has paved the way for his international comeback.
“I have been having sleepless night since this doping thing started. For me it is like being allowed to breathe again,” he remarked.
He added: “I’ve been itching to play cricket, to represent Pakistan again because there isn’t anything better than playing for your country.”
Both the players also thanked their teammates and the PCB officials for supporting them all along. “I am grateful to Allah for helping me. I must also thank my teammates who supported me in my time of need and the PCB, especially its chairman Nasim Ashraf,” said Shoaib.
Asif believes he might not have been banned in the first place had he hired a lawyer to defend him in front of an inquiry tribunal. “I was really naive,” he said. “I thought I am innocent and would be able to defend myself but I’ve learnt that such issues should be dealt by proper lawyers,” he added.
Asif represented himself in front of an anti-doping tribunal headed by Shahid Hamid which banned the bowlers on November 1. But former Test cricketer Aftab Gul, a lawyer, fought his case in front of the appeal committee. Shoaib was represented by Abid Minto, an accomplished Supreme Court advocate.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, December 5th, 2006 and is filed under General.
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