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February 20, 2007

The drugged cricketer

What will Shoaib's drug test prove?

Kamran Abbasi
Shoaib Akhtar in Karachi airport on the way to South Africa, Karachi, January 11, 2007
 © Getty Images
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Is it so hard to get a urine sample from Shoaib Akhtar? And when he finally deigns to offer up some bodily fluids what will the test prove? The same applies, of course, to Mohammad Asif.

Nandrolone is broken down reasonably quickly in the body but its metabolites can hang around for months. It is possible that metabolites might still be present in Shoaib's and Asif's urine samples. Provided those levels have dropped to near the threshold set by WADA--which is where you guess they might be if they had decreased in line with the decay curve of nandrolone metabolites--the conclusion is that Shoaib and Asif have been clean since their last test. Under those circumstances talk of life bans seems ridiculous.

On the other hand, two scenarios would cause them a problem. Firstly, if it turns out that the levels are higher than the last test. Secondly, if the result is lower but still high enough to be out of line with the decay curve of nandrolone metabolites. Under either of these scenarios their selection cannot be justified.

The decay curve, unfortunately, varies between individuals, which means that there might be a grey area.

The fact that neither of them has yet taken the test seems incredible, and conspiracy theories were fuelled by Shoaib's outrageous behaviour last week. The obvious concern is that Shoaib knows that the gig is up and is preparing his exit strategy.

But, like Inzamam, he is unlikely to play another World Cup. They have both tasted the bitter failure of 1999. This is no time for exits. It is a time for total commitment. Pakistan's focus must now be on pulling together as a team, putting past stupidity behind them, and ending this period of dispiriting, despicable, and relentless turmoil.

The first step, Mr Akhtar, is to stop taking the piss and start giving it.

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

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Keywords: Drugs

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Posted by Acai Berry on (August 26, 2008, 2:56 GMT)

Nice bog you have here. I pretty much lurk the internet when I'm bored and read all I can about the organic lifestyle, but I really liked you view on things. I'll bookmark the site and subscribe to the feed!

Posted by nick mac on (April 9, 2007, 7:40 GMT)

So much hate so little understanding.If these two players have taken this drug then ban ban ban. At this time of me writing i think it was ban. The thing is though that so many people claim ignorance to these steroids.A few years ago here in AUS. we had a few people testing positive to this same drug in R. League, where it came to light that those who were taking were said to trying to recover from injury. Funny isnt it that this same drug weakens ligaments and tissue(makes em brittle?) resulting in further injury, or more commonly becoming injured and then spending more time out of the game.To cap it all off, once off the drugs the player becomes less of an influence in the game.

Posted by Matt on (March 1, 2007, 11:29 GMT)

So, now that Asif and Shoaib are "un-fit" and withdrawn from the WC they ahve saved their careers as they will not be tested for drugs.

However, it is very suspicious, I wonder whether the ICC technical committee will allow these players to be replaced. As there is strong conjecture that they have only minor injuries, if sufficient proof of injuries is not available, the ICC may choose to not allow the players to be replaced.

This is obviously highly suspicious that the two players that have tested positive for drugs are both injured, both in the UK and both not had the formal drug tests.

How come Razzaq was able to withdraw after being injured without skipping the drug tests and not going to London?

Posted by Against drugs in sport on (March 1, 2007, 7:17 GMT)

FINALLY!!!! The world cup is officially rid of drug cheats. Todays announcement that Shaoib and Asif will not participate in WC'07 might have halved, if not demolished Pakistans chances of winning but on the brighter side atleast they can, in some small way forget the embarrasment that the PCB had caused themselves after thier decision to overturn the bans. No matter what the excuses were for these two, the bottom line is that no player should be allowed to participate in any competitive sport (especially the world cup)if they are testing positive for steroids. its just not fair to all the other hardworking sportstars who get results with blood, sweat and tears. THIS IS A GREAT DAY IN WORLD SPORT!!! CONGRATULATIONS to WADA for keeping the heat on the Pakistani cricket board and forcing them to ommit the two from WC'07

Also to those die hard Pakistani cricket fans who think that this is some sort of conspiracy against Pakistanis or that the testing procedures were inaccurate, i just have to mention one thing. why else would asif and shoaib be playing thier hide and seek game in England? they knew what they done wrong and it was too obvious that they were actively trying to dodge the dope tests. why would they be included in the team and risk a life ban??

Posted by ashzz on (February 28, 2007, 22:03 GMT)

@MR.PAKISTAN CANNOT WIN THE WORLD CUP. sir wid all due respect u hav no right wht so eva to say dose things abt our players!!i am aure u arnt a pakistani fan!! @rest of u guys... look at us!!pakistan has lost an away series n wht do v do??instead of supporting dem all v can do is criticise!!how can a team do well if dere suppoters arnt bakin em!!how many teams has done well in s.africa let alone win a series??africa is in a gr8 form.every home team makes pitches tht suit dem.so it is very diff to beat a team on der home ground.take a recent example of india.dey lost by the same margain as pakistan in s.africa.but dere fans dnt start sayin such things...as for the bowlers.yes shoaib and asif r imp.but v did do well wid out em.omer gul n shahid nazir did a f9 job in the test matches.all 10x to waqar's coachin.the only mistake our board made was kikin out waqar.cux he improved pakistans bowling a lot. stop criticising ur team n start prayin n forgods sake do rite a few encouraging words 4 em!!10x.

Posted by Imran bhai what r u talking Dear sir? on (February 28, 2007, 18:12 GMT)

Akhter bhai can u win the W cup for us?? I know u can do it alone. wel done slecters u have included shoaib akhter even he was half fit. Hell on the ppls who keep blaming the slecters. They slected a best team 4 the worldcup. I am happy with the slecters about Mohammed hafeez inclusion in the squads. He is a good spinner, Pak will use him as their 6th bowler in the match. As a good spinner if he score plus 20 runs, I think its enough for PaK. Imran khan is such a great player but I am surprised by the statement he made about yasir hameed. Imran bhai beleave me I never dare to call u an idiot or fool caz u r a very good person. Please dont rate yasir hameed as a specialist opener for the worldcup. This time u have a very poor judgements sir. U r keep supporting Yasir hameed because he is from peshawar. As u always supported younis khan in the past, Younis is also a pathan. U have the same feelings for Umer Gul. U r a great cricketer Please sir dont do that. Imran farhat is also not a good opener for the worldcup as a specialist batsman. He throw his wicket with the same way towards 2nd slip. But again some ppls r blaming slecters for Imran farhat. thr r always critics,, but,, So well done slecters. This is the best team picked by the slecters & they have very good options to pick thr openers from thr 15 men squads. Once Akhter and Asif clear thr tests. Pak will win it.

Posted by fahad,kmc,nepal on (February 28, 2007, 5:38 GMT)

well what i think tat if shoaib akhtar is unfit for the world cup then obviously its a set back for the pakistan team tat doesnt mean tat they dont stand a chance at the world.now with razzaq injured and afridi banned for the 2 odis.its like adding salt to the injury.but i was quite impressed with rao iftikar anjum the way he bowled against the proteus in last odi.azhar mahmod is a good replacement for someone like razzaq.umer gul needs to bowl his heart out throughtout the series.but the shoaib the rawalipindi express is very very difficult to be replaced.......so its going to b tough for pak and we dont know either that asif will b playing or not!!! may they r tested negative and are fit for the opening encounter against the windies and may we seen a fully fit and strong pakistan team on march 13th .may palistan win the cup!!!

Posted by PAK HAS A ZERO% CHANCE TO LIFT THE TROPHY. on (February 27, 2007, 15:10 GMT)

HOW CAN U WIN A WORLDCUP???????? 1- If Akhter and asif r not playing, Pak bowling depending on Rao, Rana & Azhar(for Razzaq), Malik, Hafeez. lol 2- Look to thr Wicketkeeper? No need to explain about his form. 3- What a fielders they got, lol... Rana, Inzi, Yousuf, etc etc. 4- What is the batting position of thr batsmen? No one of Pak players knows what is his batting position. lol 5- Inzi become more fat. He is only counting his days when Worldcup will end. He just hang on man. 6- What a chairman Pcb have at the stage of worldcup(naseem ashraf). He writes cricket '' crakit''. They beleave if u know u cannt win the WC then make some FUN man. So why not to make him chairman. lol 7- Pak coach was very good 4,5 montsh ago. But after so many above mantioned matters he is gone totally MAD. Pak team is going to make a ...... history in upcomming WC. lol ... I hope Pak will win in thr first round against Ireland and zimbabwe.....

Posted by Tom on (February 27, 2007, 10:33 GMT)

There should be no doubt - The two failed a dope test for performance enhancing drugs. WADA code states unequivocally that the athlete is repsonsible for everything that goes into his body. ICC have signed up to the WADA code so they get a 2 year ban and this should be enforced by ICC if PCB do not do the right thing. NO debate!

Posted by S.Senthil kumar on (February 27, 2007, 5:46 GMT)

friends,Cricket is gentlemen game.But PCB is a totally collapsed.They have not clear idea to take decision.If you see cricket board like india,australia is very strict to manage players.India banned azar,jadeja involving in match fixing.Talent is measued by performance of the team as well as individual players.Both these akthar and asif has taken some drugs.This was confirmed by PCB.But they are not having clear vision.They should neglected to these both players and Pakistan has lot of young and potential talented fast bowlers.But the PCB did big mistake of again selected two players.They may be selected some players and may be equiped two bowlers before this world cup.They entirly failed.I would like to conclude the pakistan cricket team will find the meaning of cricket in this world cup.Because fatique of some players,coach problem,PCB confusion,etc..,Anyway pakistan cricket team should have more awarness when play against inexperienced cricket teams.They may give some shock treatment.

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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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