Time running out for Shoaib, Asif

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Saturday conceded that Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif have been openly evasive in taking mandatory dope tests and has also admitted that the pace duo’s chances of featuring in next month’s World Cup are getting bleak.

A PCB official told this correspondent that Shoaib and Asif have so far not shown any willingness to undergo dope tests and they would be facing the axe if the tests are not carried out within the next few days.

“It is a ticklish situation,” said the official who did not want to be named. “We have tested all our players except Shoaib and Asif and that says a lot. The players claim that they are currently more focused on getting fit but there is more to it than meets the eye,” he added.

With just four days left in Pakistan’s departure for the West Indies, the clock is ticking for Shoaib and Asif.

The situation has become grave for them following the International Cricket Council’s (ICCs) decision to go ahead with target testing during the World Cup.

“The ICC has informed all competing nations including us that it maintains the right to target test players at any point during the event and even during the support period,” said the official.

Explaining the term ’support period’, the official said that the ICC can single out any player from a competing team and test him even during the period when the teams land in the West Indies and the actual competitions starts from March 13.

“We would reach the West Indies on March 2 which means that any of our players can be asked to undergo a dope test right away,” said the official.

It is an open secret that Shoaib and Asif are unwilling to take the test because of fears that they might not clear it.

The bowlers tested positive to banned anabolic steroid nandrolone in October and there is a strong possibility that they could still be carrying traces of the substance in their bloodstreams. Experts believe that it could take up to six months for an athlete to flush out nandrolone from his system.

Then, there is also the warning that if Shoaib and Asif fail a dope test again, they would be facing a life ban for a second offence.

“It is a difficult decision for them,” said the PCB official. “If they avoid the test, the World Cup is over for them and if they take it and fail, it could result in a life ban,” he added.

He said that the PCB will not force the players to go through the tests. “It is entirely up to them because it is their careers at stake,” he explained.

Both the players have told the Board that they would be going to England on February 26 for medical treatment. The duo is scheduled to return home two days later just before the team’s departure for the West Indies on March 1.

The PCB would need at least 48 hours to test the players and get the results from a laboratory in Malaysia which means that if the players proceed to England as planned then they would most likely miss the flight their teammates would be taking on Thursday.

The PCB official however said that if Shoaib and Asif did take the test and clear it, they could be sent to the West Indies by March 6. “We have some time before our opening game on March 13 and if there is an all-clear then Shoaib and Asif can join the team at a later stage,” he added.

Source:The News

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