The drugs scandal December 5, 2006

'I am breathing again' - Shoaib

Shoaib Akhtar: 'I was so disappointed that I was not sleeping properly' © AFP

Pakistan's relieved new-ball duo of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif have said they were eager to get their careers back on track after winning an appeal against doping charges.

The pair also thanked their team-mates and bosses after a three-man committee overturned the two-year ban imposed last month on Akhtar and a one-year ban on Asif after they allegedly tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.

"I am breathing again, my life was jolted no-end by the ban. I can't describe the feeling," said Akhtar, who almost announced his retirement from cricket after the ban. "I was so disappointed that I was not sleeping properly. I am thankful to the Almighty, and to the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Dr Naseem Ashraf, to give both of us a proper chance to fight the ban."

At 31, a relatively advanced age for a fast bowler, Shoaib had feared that the ban would end his cricketing career. "I missed playing cricket for my country and now I hope that I will resume my career. The whole team had supported me and I am thankful to my teammates and every cricket lover who prayed for me."

Both players had denied taking any banned substances and the appeals committee said that neither player had been advised on vitamin supplements which may have caused the positive tests.

The 23-year-old Asif, an emerging star this year, said his whole family had been in turmoil since the dope test results were revealed in October. "I am delighted to hear that I will be playing again. These two months have been the worst of my life and only today I resumed training," said Asif, adding that he had lost six pounds through worrying.

"I hope the bad days are over now. I badly want to play and it was only through the support of my captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and coach Bob Woolmer that I kept myself going."