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September 24, 2009
Mohammad Asif, the Pakistan fast bowler, was taken for an ICC dope test during a team practice session in Johannesburg on Thursday. Asif has tested positive twice before for the steroid nandrolone, once at the inaugural IPL last year, and ironically, once just before the last Champions Trophy in India in 2006.
His inclusion in the Pakistan squad for this tournament is his first involvement with the team in over a year and it comes only after he completed a one-year ban on September 22 for the IPL offence.
"Asif has been taken for a dope test by the ICC," a member of the team management told Cricinfo. "It is nothing out of the ordinary and in keeping with their doping procedures at all such tournaments."
It is likely that Asif's test is part of the ICC's doping policy of target-testing some players in addition to the regular random testing, a practice they began at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean. Even then it was thought to be aimed at Pakistan, who had included Shoaib Akhtar and Asif in their squad, months after they tested positive in tests conducted by the PCB just before the 2006 Champions Trophy (they were given bans after the test, but had them overturned on appeal).
The pair were eventually pulled out at the last minute and though the PCB denied it, it was widely believed that the board was worried that levels of nandrolone in their body had not receded to legal levels.
This was Asif's first training session with the Pakistan side, as he was not allowed to train with them until the ban was completed. He was not included in the XI for Pakistan's five-wicket win over the West Indies in their tournament opener and it is not yet sure whether he will play in the big one against India on Saturday. As per normal practice, two other Pakistan players were tested before their first game.
Asif's troubles began in October 2006 when he first tested positive for nandrolone before the Champions Trophy in India. He pleaded ignorance over the substances he was using and though he was initially banned for a year, that punishment was scrapped on appeal.
He then tested positive for nandrolone during the inaugural season of the IPL in 2008 and his B sample also returned positive though there was a difference in the level of nandrolone in the two readings. In June 2008, on his way home from the IPL, he was detained at Dubai airport for allegedly possessing opium. He was deported after prosecutors argued that the offence was a 'trivial' one and a case not worth pursuing. He was banned by the IPL for the steroids offence this February but the one-year ban was back-dated to September last year, thereby making him eligible for the Champions Trophy.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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