The Pakistan drugs saga July 3, 2007

WADA urge ICC to tighten doping rules

Cricinfo staff

Shoaib Akhtar: at the centre of the storm © Getty Images
The World Anti-Doping Agency have put pressure on the ICC to fully implement their code on doping offences, and say they are "looking forward" to their full co-operation in the fight against drugs in sport.

WADA recently appealed against the reversals of the bans imposed on the Pakistani fast bowlers, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, who were initially suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board for two years and one year respectively after testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.

Their appeal, however, had to been turned down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), who ruled "with considerable regret" that they had no jurisdiction in the case. Although the ICC adopted the WADA code on doping offences a year ago, they have not yet implemented it, and so there is no provision for any appeal against the PCB's decision.

A statement from WADA read: "While regretting the absence of jurisdiction of CAS in this specific case, WADA noted with satisfaction that the CAS panel considered the exoneration of the two cricketers by the PCB Appeals Committee as an "unsatisfactory" decision.

"Point 8.8 of the CAS award states that 'The panel reached this conclusion with some considerable regret. The fight against doping will be severely hampered if international federations, such as the International Cricket Council (ICC), and national governing bodies, such as the PCB, do not ensure that their anti-doping rules are able to avoid unsatisfactory decisions as the majority decision of the PCB Appeals Committee in this case.

"That decision was inconsistent with a long and invariable line of CAS' decisions which hold that it is the athlete's duty to ensure that what he or she ingests does not contain a prohibited substance, and with the World Anti-Doping Code which is to the same effect'.

"Furthermore, the panel stressed that 'it is the responsibility of the ICC to ensure that its members promulgate anti-doping rules which are consistent with the World Anti-Doping Code and which enable either the ICC or its members or WADA to appeal against what might be termed as 'rogue' decisions'."

The ICC, in reply, acknowledged that "lessons had been learnt" from the experience, but stressed that the organisation remained committed to a "zero tolerance approach" to the used of banned substances in cricket. "We are working hard with our members to ensure a case like this does not happen again," said Faisal Hasnain, the acting chief executive.

"Since we became a WADA signatory in 2006, we have been striving to make sure cricket does not develop a major problem in this area," added Hasnain. "I believe we are getting it right. The menace of drugs has been visited upon most sports over the years and cricket is no exception,. "The challenge for us is to make sure they do not become a major factor in our game and that everyone can continue to watch safe in the knowledge that they are viewing a fair contest between top athletes untainted by banned substances."

The ICC began implementing drugs tests at all of its major events in 2002, and to date no-one has yet tested positive during an ICC competition. "That is not to say we can be complacent - far from it," said Hasnain. "We are engaged in a robust campaign to make sure all our Members become WADA-compliant by 2009 at the latest." This date has been moved forward from an original deadline of 2010.