Shoaib Akhter acquitted of charges
Good news. Tribunal was in favour of thier appeal and all bans were removed.
Shoaib and Asif acquitted
December 5, 2006
The saga continues: First the ban and, then, complete acquittal © Getty Images
Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif have been acquitted by the tribunal appointed to review their appeals against the drugs ban imposed on them by an earlier committee. The three-man committee, headed by Justice Fakhruddin Ebrahim, voted two to one in favour of the acquittal. Haseeb Ahsan, former Test cricketer, and Ebrahim were in favour of the acquittal while the third member, Danish Zaheer, dissented.
"This appeal committee holds that Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif will not be deemed to have committed a doping offence," Ibrahim told reporters in Karachi. "The ban and punishment imposed by the earlier tribunal is hereby set aside as being contrary to the provision of laws."
A 30-page plus judgement released by the committee detailed the reasons for their decision. As well as taking into account the fact that existing medical evidence surrounding nandrolone (the substance for which both were tested positive) remains questionable, the punishment handed out by the previous committee were also called into question. The ruling also cited 'exceptional circumstances' for both players, that neither was fully aware of the substances they were taking.
"It is plainly evident that neither Shoaib Akhtar nor Mohammad Asif were ever warned or cautioned against taking supplements," the judgement read. "Hence, this committee is of the considered view that both players have successfully established that they held an honest and reasonable belief that the supplements ingested by them did not contain any prohibited substances."
Bilal Minto, one of the lawyers representing Shoaib, told Cricinfo that the decision was a good one, but highlighted that the PCB had also let down the players. "We are very happy about the judgement obviously. But it is clear that the PCB's level of educating players about anti-doping legislation is poor. As lawyers, even we struggled to make sense of their anti-doping regulations so expecting players to be able to understand it is not right."
Shoaib, banned for two years, and Asif, for one year, appealed after they were found guilty for testing positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone in dope tests that were internally conducted by the PCB at the end of September.
The ICC did not have any immediate reaction. "Malcolm Speed is currently in Uganda and we can't comment on the issue unless we have all the details," said Brian Murgatroyd, the ICC spokesman. "We need to go through the judgement and also get the PCB's version before making any comment."
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in charge of monitoring drugs in sport, said they needed to discuss the matter with the ICC. Frederic Donze, their media relations officer, told Cricinfo: "We will now review the reasons for the decision, liaise with the ICC and consider whether to exercise its right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport."
The original tribunal which had imposed the ban was chaired by barrister Shahid Hamid and included Intikhab Alam, the former Pakistan captain, and Waqar Ahmed, a doping expert. The ICC had applauded that decision, saying that it was an appropriate deterrent where the threat of drugs to cricket was concerned. "It is a good judgement, well written, very professionally done and they have made constant reference to the guidelines laid down in the PCB's anti-doping code,"Percy Sonn, the ICC president had said.