The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has expressed concern at the manner in which Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, the Pakistan bowlers, were cleared by an appellate tribunal despite having “in essence accepted that they had the banned substance in their bodies” as they didn’t opt for a B-sample analysis.
“Should that go without a sanction? This doesn’t fit with the whole process that we have in place globally. So that is of some concern on the face of it”, David Howman, the WADA director-general, told Cricinfo in an interview.
Howman was echoing the words of Dick Pound, the WADA chief, who has termed the lifting of the bans as “aberrational.” Howman, former head of the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency, said he was not present when Pound made the statement but had an idea what he was getting at. “I don’t know what he said (but) I can anticipate that he might be saying that it would be most unusual that athletes who have in essence accepted that they had the banned substance in their bodies they didn’t challenge the analysis by even getting the B tests analysed.”
However, Howman said WADA would be looking at the Pakistan case “just like we would look at any other case before we exercise our powers.” WADA would meet the ICC officials “some time” this week in Dubai before determining its course of action against the recent verdict passed by a three-member appellate tribunal, appointed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), which overturned the bans on Shoaib and Asif.
Shoaib, banned for two years, and Asif, for one year, appealed after they were found guilty by the first PCB committee for testing positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone in dope tests that were internally conducted by the PCB at the end of September.
In a wide-ranging interview, Howman also said one of most important measures to check doping is testing outside the major tournaments. “The reason for testing out of competition is there is a lot of evidence that would indicate that that’s the time that players take banned substance either to recover from niggling injuries, and they don’t do this medically they do it outside of medical advice, or to bulk up, beef up, increase your endurance or whatever. So the suspicion always is, that is the time the player will take the banned substances. Therefore it is the right time to be tested.”
This, though, can only be successful if the national anti-doping agencies pitch in aggressively, he said. “We would like to think they can work together and have a proper programme so that international standard athletes are tested at the right times.”
Asked whether he thought cricket had got its act together on doping, Howman was tactful in reply. “Cricket is one of the new members to the WADA family, having their international rules in place as of July this year. It therefore has ground to make up on many of the other federations who have had programmes in place for many years.”
While expressing confidence that that ground would be covered, he did say it would take time. “It won’t happen overnight, it will have to happen under a considered programme and a considered policy that the ICC board will put into place.”
Nagraj Gollapudi is Assistant Editor of Cricinfo MagazineMore on:Mohammad Asif, Pakistan, Pakistan Dope Scandal, PCB, Shoaib Akhtar, WADA
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