The International Cricket Council (ICC) president Percy Sonn on Wednesday took a swipe at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for inconsistencies in its anti-doping regulations but fell short of challenging a surprising verdict that let dope-tainted fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif off the hook.
In a statement, Sonn said that Tuesday’s 2-1 verdict which exonerated the pacers, who were earlier banned by an anti-doping tribunal over positive drug tests, underlined the fact that all member cricket nations need to align their anti-doping policies with the ICC Code.
“The judgment highlights inconsistencies in the PCB’s anti-doping processes and regulations,” he said.
Shoaib and Asif, Pakistan’s key strike bowlers, tested positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone in October and were withdrawn from the country’s ICC Champions Trophy squad. The new ball duo was later banned by an inquiry tribunal appointed by the PCB.
However, a three-member Anti-doping Appeals Committee headed by Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim cleared Shoaib and Asif of doping offences after a through investigation on the grounds that the PCB never warned its players about possible contamination of nutritional supplements they had been taking in the past which may have resulted in positive dope tests.
It is feared that the decision would attract stern reaction from the ICC and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) who have been monitoring the case since it all started in mid-October.
However, Sonn’s initial statement addresses the fact that the doping menace has made inroads into the cricket world but doesn’t openly challenge the players’ acquittal.
He said: “Cricket has taken significant strides forward in addressing the important issue of drug use in our sport. However, this judgement emphasises that much more work needs to be done to educate players and to synchronize our members’ efforts to attain a totally drug-free sport.”
Sonn, a South African who is a lawyer by profession, pointed out that there were lessons to be learnt from the judgment of the appeals committee.
“It is vital that cricket takes heed of the judgment and that the lessons it provides are disseminated amongst all our members. Of primary importance is that all those members revisit their own regulations and align them both with the ICC’s Anti-Doping Code and the WADA Code.”
He conceded that the there is a need of more doping awareness among cricketers as highlighted by the appeals committee. “The issue of player education is also of vital importance and the ICC will, with WADA’s continued assistance, do its utmost to make it easier for our members to provide this service to their players and officials,” he said.
Sonn also reiterated ICC’s tough stance over drug abuse saying “the key fact is that it is vital for all our members to maintain a zero tolerance on the use of drugs in our sport. That is the idea behind the ICC’s drug-testing regime at all our events since 2002 and our adoption of the WADA Code in July of this year.”
He concluded by urging ICC member nations to overhaul their anti-doping regulations. “I would now urge all our members to ensure appropriate action is taken so cricket can show just how committed it is to being known as a drug-free sport.”
WADA, meanwhile, has said that it is monitoring the case and would soon be discussing it with the ICC. As the international doping watchdog, WADA reserves the right to challenge the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
However, PCB chief Dr Nasim Ashraf has said that the decision cannot be challenged because the players were caught out of competition through tests carried out by Pakistan internally.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Thursday, December 7th, 2006 and is filed under General.
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