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December 5, 2006

The drugged cricketer

Justice is done

Kamran Abbasi

Shoaib Akhtar says he can breathe again but so can Pakistan's prospects of lifting next year's World Cup. Despite a noble effort by Umar Gul and Shahid Nazir, Pakistan's bowling has a toothless look to it without its premier fast bowlers. Shoaib and Mohammad Asif are capable of taking wickets on any track, a priceless commodity. Welcome back.

Much will be made of their bans being overturned. I can hear the clamour already: "What do you expect from Pakistan cricket, every rule will be bent to protect their star players." Well, my view is that it is better for justice to be done than for the players to be the victims of a witch-hunt. And, let's be clear, several top stars have successfully pleaded a defence in this situation but with higher levels of nandrolone in their urine, take Greg Rusedski for example. The central problem with nandrolone, to my mind, is that the evidence base is not sufficiently strong to end or harm any sportsman's career on the basis of it being found in a urine sample. I fully support the elimination of performance-enhancing drugs from sport but clearly the drugs authorities need to work harder to produce better diagnostic tests and stronger evidence to support the validity of their tests. Nandrolone is a particular problem.

These issues were complicated further by the ramshackle way in which Pakistan players were instructed about drugs. Inevitably there will be denials about the quality of information and the level of supervision that the players received but anybody who has glimpsed the inner workings of Pakistan cricket knows that there is face validity to the findings of the tribunal.

The problem with any hearing that attempts to be fair is that a proportion of people who are guilty will be found to be innocent. Better that, though, than the other way round. In this case, my view is that there was sufficient doubt about the method of raising awareness among players and the process of testing--and further doubt about the wickedness of the players' intentions--for them to be found not guilty. A bad process invariably produces a bad result, which was the outcome of the first hearing.

Pakistan cricket must put this sad affair behind it, learn from its mistakes, and develop a proper process for drugs awareness and monitoring. An urgent review of the PCB's medical panel is required. It has emitted shambolic signals for years. Shoaib and Asif must now be exceptionally diligent about what they consume for there can be no second chance and no second forgiveness.

Above all, Pakistan cricket must now focus on winning the World Cup. And that preparation has to begin with the selection of the team for the second one-dayer, a team that should include Shoaib, Asif, and Shahid Afridi.

Many of you will disagree. But as Martin Luther King once wrote from Birmingham jail: "Injustice anywhere harms justice everywhere."

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Keywords: Drugs

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Posted by Folding Shovel on (May 12, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

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Posted by gemeAdvomma on (August 2, 2011, 14:41 GMT)

In my opinion you are not right.

Posted by Radha Krishnan on (March 1, 2007, 8:34 GMT)

Mr.Kamran Abbasi take a blanket and cover yourself...Shame on You And The Pakistianis...Jusctice Prevails!!!!..Good Joke.. Now both the players are out of World Cup Squad...The entire cricketing fatehrnity knows the real reason behind the drama played by their cricket board. Do you dare to send these two players ???.. If so...they will be totally out of cricket.

Posted by SK on (December 20, 2006, 17:53 GMT)

Mr. Abbasi, Do you sincerely believe justice is done ? What a sham !! It's obvious that the author is only concerned about Pakistan's world cup prospects and he conveniently overlooks the damaging effects of the drug cheats' acquittal on world cricket at large. So much for your credentials as a cricket writer! I believe that greater justice will be done when the ICC and WADA impose a bigger ban on those cheats! There ain't no place for drugs in cricket or any other sport. The fact that such cheats were allowed to go scot free in Pak is a sad reflection of the values and ethics in their society. What happened to your so called honour and dignity?

As a genuine cricket lover, I happened to visit this blog out of curiosity. Now that Mr Abbasi, a dotor to boot, is supporting drug cheats and comparing mere mortals like Youhana to the great Sir Viv, I would never be tempted to visit this blog again !!!

SK

Posted by Nomis on (December 13, 2006, 21:44 GMT)

The Pakistan Drugs Board have signed the death warrent for honest sport.................why am I not surprised

Posted by Rumesh on (December 13, 2006, 7:11 GMT)

Pakistan should play the druggies against the West Indies immediately before the WADA and ICC can take action against them - This will satisfy the crazy Pakistanies who fit into the 'cheat and win' category ???

Posted by Khurram on (December 12, 2006, 17:42 GMT)

So ICC and WADA believe that a harsher punishment is more appreciated than a leniant one, regardless of it being unjust? They did not get involved when the bans were handed out; Why didnt they try to make sure the players were being treated with justice. Now that the bans have been overturned, they are pointing fingers? ICC is a joke!!!

Posted by Spaceman! on (December 12, 2006, 3:55 GMT)

I am shocked that so many people do not know the charges bought against the two bowlers. At no point was the charge ever about willingly taking nandrelone or not. The charge is having it in their systems. Which they did. 7 yimes the legally allowed limit. Doesn't matter if they knew it or where totally ignorant of it. They were found guilty of the charges brought against them. End of.

Posted by JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on (December 12, 2006, 3:42 GMT)

WILL THE JUSTICE BE UNDONE?

There has been a strong rumour that the decision of acquitting Shoaib and Asif is not being appreciated by ICC and WADA and they have not only criticized but also suggesting that they would like to delve deeper in to this matter and see if they can do anything to admonish PCB or even force them not to reverse the decision.

There is also a controversy over the letter that the PCB chairman wrote to Shahid Hamid the Head of the commission prior to the hearing to which, according to Hamid says is: "totally unacceptable and out of order," adding that it amounted to an attempt to put undue pressure on the judgment of the commission. The PCB chairman however rubbished the notion that his letter influences their decision anyway. Here is a link of that article.

http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/pakistan/content/story/271975.html

So my question is is this an end to the Nandrolone episode or is it going to drag in to the next year and so on......? Any views on this? Please!

Posted by saqib on (December 11, 2006, 7:41 GMT)

well i can not say any thing about verdict because nor the case has been studies by us and nor the full details we have received but the important point is that after getting free from bans can asif and shoaib perform at the level they were doing previously becuase they will be always undersrutiny for what ever reasons

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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