'It's ludicrous and not fair' March 1, 2007

Hayden upset Shoaib and Asif can go to World Cup

Cricinfo staff

Matthew Hayden: "We've worked very hard to be clean athletes" © Getty Images

The selections of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, who have both had drugs suspensions overturned, in the Pakistan World Cup squad are "ludicrous", according to Matthew Hayden. And as the Australian squad left for the Caribbean Andrew Symonds told the Sydney Morning Herald "everyone knows what our opinion on it is".

"It's a laughable point amongst our players because we've worked very hard to be clean athletes," Hayden told the paper. "It's ludicrous and it's not fair."

Akhtar was banned for two years and Asif suspended for 12 months after nandrolone was found in their samples last year, but the punishments were erased on appeal and they were picked in the 15-man World Cup squad. The bowlers have been in London this week and are required to undergo Pakistan board drug tests before the start of the tournament. If they return a second positive result they could be banned for life.

Symonds said the squad had been told to be tight-lipped about the issue. "But put it this way: imagine if it was one of us," he said. "Imagine if it was Matty Hayden or someone else. Imagine what the world would say."

Hayden said the ICC should take a greater role in penalising drug offenders. "We're all tested equally," he said. "So if someone's tested positive for a steroid, then they have to have the penalties of the game. Anything short of that is a failure from our governing body, simple as that.

"No one country should be negligent in its duties to make our sport clean. That's not to single out this particular case, because Australia has also had cases of this, but they've served their full ban ... and that's the way it should be."