Shoaib also likely to challenge ruling November 6, 2006

Asif appeals doping ban

Cricinfo staff

Mohammad Asif was the first to file an appeal with the appeal committee © AFP

The Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif has filed an appeal with his lawyer challenging the one-year ban imposed on him by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for failing a drugs test. His appeal will be reviewed by the two-member appeal committee formed by the board, consisting of Justice Fakhruddin Ibrahim and Hasib Ahsan, a former Test cricketer.

"I have filed my appeal through my lawyer, Aftab Gul, and submitted it to the PCB's medical officer, Dr Sohail Saleem, and I hope my ban will be reviewed by the appeal committee," Asif told AFP. Asif and his fellow fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar were both found guilty of using the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone by a doping tribunal formed by the board. While Asif was handed a one-year ban, Shoaib got a harsher sentence and was kicked out for two years. Both men claimed that they had not wilfully taken any performance-enhancing drugs.

Shoaib, however, is yet to file his appeal and Tauseef Razzaq, his personal doctor, said that they would consult doping experts from abroad before deciding to formally appeal. "We are serving notice to the PCB before appealing against the ban," Razzaq told AFP. "We have also tried to hire some doping experts from abroad, who are in the process of reviewing the decision of the PCB tribunal, and once they agree we will invite them here to fight the case."

Gul, a former Test player, felt the sentences were too severe, citing the fact that the players were not properly informed of the consequences of doping. "This is a case of mitigation and we have questioned the quantum of sentence to our client," Gul told AFP. "Under exceptional circumstances you cannot punish, and the circumstances with Asif were exceptional, as he had no knowledge of doping and was not given any lectures on the consequences. Akhtar is an inspiration to the younger generation, while Asif is a new hero, so by banning both they have done a great disservice to the game."

The players also have the backing of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA). Umer Ayub, the PMA president, described the bans as unjust, and even offered to challenge them in the courts through their panel of lawyers if the punishments weren't lifted. "The PCB has pleased the outside world and the ICC by banning Shoaib and Asif but justice was not meted out to the two," Ayub told The News, a Pakistan daily. "Since we feel the ban is unjust and if it is not lifted after appeals we will move to the court through our panel of lawyers, which also includes renowned lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan."