Champions Trophy 2006 October 16, 2006

Shoaib protests his innocence

Cricinfo staff

Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif have been asked to return to Pakistan © AFP

Shoaib Akhtar has protested his innocence, after it was revealed he had tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid Nandrolone, during an internal dope test carried out by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

"I cannot say much at this time about what has happened but I just want to assure everyone that I am innocent of doing anything I shouldn't have," Shoaib told "The President of Pakistan has asked me not to comment in any detail at this stage and I want to respect his wishes, so I will keep my message short.

"All I can say is that I have not knowingly taken any performance-enhancing drugs and would never cheat my team-mates or opponents in this way. I have always played the game fair and I give 100 percent and do not feel that I need to take drugs to help my bowling."

Shoaib, along with his team-mate, Mohammad Asif, has already been sent home from the Champions Trophy, leaving the Pakistan squad in further disarray, following the chaos that surrounded the appointment of Younis Khan as stand-in captain earlier in the month. "I am gutted to be missing the Champions Trophy," added Shoaib," and I will return to Pakistan to see what has happened and what needs to be done."

His pleas of innocence were backed up by a statement from his private doctor, Tauseef Razzaq, a reputed physiotherapist and sports medicine specialist, who told AFP that the positive test results probably stemmed from the medicines he had been taking to aid his recovery from injury.

"Akhtar is definitely innocent and I can vouch for him," said Tauseef. "He doesn't know anything about medicines, and since he recently suffered ankle and knee injuries, he must have taken some medicines which are painkillers but come under the banned substances."

Dr Razzaq was hired by Shoaib in 2004, a move which attracted criticism from the PCB. He added that Shoaib had returned two negative tests, at the Champions Trophy in England two years ago and after the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

"Akhtar is so valuable a cricketer and is conscious of the fact," said Razzaq, "so I don't think he would take anything intentionally. Since he bowls at a venomous pace he also knew he would always be a target for a dope test."