February 20, 2003

Warne's mum key element in probe

Shane Warne's mum and an exhaustive analysis of his urine sample will be key elements of the biggest drugs hearing in Australian sports history.

Warne will front an Australian Cricket Board anti-doping committee on Friday morning and no verdict is expected until late afternoon, at the earliest.

He will face a minimum two-year ban if found guilty of using a prohibited method.

Warne tested positive to a banned diuretic on January 22 and the case has attracted enormous interest since it became public early last week.

The leg-spinner, 33, would have to think seriously about retirement if he received the two-year penalty.

But even if he is found guilty, Warne could receive a lesser sentence or even escape penalty under an "exceptional circumstance" clause in the ACB's anti-doping policy.

A report from the board's anti-doping control officer Dr Peter Harcourt could also help or hurt Warne in terms of penalty.

Warne has said he tested positive because of a pill his mother Brigitte gave him, apparently to help his appearance. Brigitte is yet to comment publicly on the saga.

Warne received the results of his B sample earlier this week and his legal team has since spent plenty of time pouring over the laboratory report.

They will try to use the test results to show Warne has been telling the truth and the diuretic was not being used as a masking agent for something more sinister, such as steroids.

The hearing will be closed, with Justice Glen Williams, medical expert Dr Susan White and former Test spinner and national selector Peter Taylor making up the committee.

The ACB has appointed barrister Elizabeth Brimer to assist the anti-doping committee, while board chief executive James Sutherland and its legal and business development Andrew Twaits will also attend the hearing.

Warne's lawyer Ian McCubbin, plus a QC, and his brother and manager Jason Warne will most likely be with the star and his mother.

West Australian Duncan Spencer received an 18-month ban two years ago after testing positive to the steroid nandrolone. Then a year ago New South Wales batsman Graeme Rummans was fined $2000 and was banned for a month after testing positive to probenecid.

Earlier today, World Anti-Doping Agency chairman Dick Pound again weighed into the Warne saga.

World sport's top anti-drugs official said Warne should receive a two-year ban if found guilty.

"The source is not relevant, the responsibility of an athlete is not take prohibited substances," Pound said.

"You cannot have an IQ over room temperature and be unaware of this as an international athlete.

"This is original: 'My mum gave it to me'."

He also dismissed as "nonsense" criticism from Australian Sports Drug Agency chief executive John Mendoza for commenting on the case before tomorrow's hearing.