Cricket: Doctor defends disgraced Akhtar
The doctor of shamed Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has come out in defence of the player at the centre of cricketing's latest drugs scandal.
"Shoaib Akhtar may have taken the drug accidentally," according to his doctor Tauseef Razzaq, in an article posted on the ICC Champions Trophy website today.
Speaking from his Lahore residence, Dr Razzaq told the website, "I have been treating [Akhtar] for the last five years and he is more like a son to me. He never hides anything from me and I can say that he [would] never take the banned substance deliberately."
Dr Razzaq reportedly said the fast bowler has been on a herbal medication prescribed by a local hakim (doctor) in Pakistan and that could have created the problem.
"It is a possibility that the nandrolone drug was mixed in herbal medicines that he has been taking since his last surgery."
The superstar fast bowler and fellow bowler Mohammad Asif both tested positive for the steroid nandrolone, and were sent home from the Champions Trophy.
The tests were conducted by Pakistan at a camp late last month.
A spokesman for the Pakistan Cricket Board says the two players were part of a group of 25 tested before the Champions Trophy, in a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Malaysia.
The tests were conducted internally, and not in an ICC tournament, so Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif will appear before a PCB disciplinary committee.
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer is defending his players, and says there is no way the players would have taken something to boost performance, but they have both been recovering from injury, so maybe that has something to do with it.
Akhtar has been suffering from knee and ankle problems while Asif had had a shoulder problem.
Nandrolone can sometimes aid recovery from injury.
If the 'B' samples are positive, both bowlers will be banned for two years.
"I want to assure everyone that I am innocent of doing anything I shouldn't have," Shoaib told the bigstarcricket.com website.
"All I can say at this stage is that I have not knowingly taken any performance-enhancing drugs and would never cheat my team mates or opponents in this way."
PCB chairman Naseem Ashraf said an investigation would be set up to look into the matter and possible actions against the pair.
"The players took it unfortunately," Ashraf said.
"They might have had no idea about the drug. It is the first time our players have tested positive so we'll take action accordingly."
Pakistan meet Sri Lanka in their first tournament clash tonight.
Pakistan cricket is still reeling from a ball-tampering fiasco which caused the team to forfeit the recent fourth test against England at The Oval.
That is in addition to controversy over the captaincy and the resignation of board chairman Shaharyar Khan.
Both players have only recently returned to top class cricket with Shoaib missing the four-test series in England last year with knee and ankle problems.
Asif played in the final test after he was sidelined by an elbow injury.
Australian leg spinner Shane Warne was banned for one year after testing positive for a diuretic before the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
Cricket website Cricinfo quoted Malcolm Speed, the chief executive of the ICC, saying that players should be well aware of banned substances.
Mr Speed told reporters in Jaipur that it was disappointing that two of Pakistan's premier bowlers had failed a test.
"Players have been tested since 2002 and I believe they're well aware of the substances on the list, as well as substances that most commonly cause problems for other sports. A number of times, the list has been advised to the cricket boards. This is not the first tournament when ICC has tested for drugs. We started in 2002 at the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand."
He continued: "Cricket is regarded as a low-risk sport in terms of doping.
"But five of our members - England, South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia - carry out regular testing within their own countries. The ICC has signed the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) code, as have most countries."
Speed was quoted by cricinfo as commenting on Shoaib Akhtar: "Shoaib has always been an exciting cricketer, a character and history will judge him the way it has to."
Monday, October 16, 2006
Posted by cric at 10:18 PM