Drugs in cricket December 9, 2006

Role of PCB in inquiry under question

A copy of the letter from the PCB was printed in The Nation newspaper. Click here to see a larger version. © The Nation
The role of PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf in the inquiry in to the doping scandal that rocked Pakistan cricket has come under scrutiny with the publication of a letter written by him to the first anti-doping commission, which banned Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, and allegations from the head of the commission that attempts were made to influence their decision. Ashraf has termed the allegation as "absolute hogwash."

The letter, addressed to Shahid Hamid, the head of the commission, was obtained by The Nation, a leading English language daily based in Lahore. In the letter, sent three days before the final verdict was given, Ashraf asks the commission to consider a set of points before reaching a final verdict.

As well as asking the commission to make sure players have the opportunity for full legal representation and that independent experts are appointed to evaluate analytical material, the chairman suggests that "the concentration of Nandrolone found in the two samples is quite consistent with the use of contaminated food supplements."

Hamid confirmed to Cricinfo that he had received the letter and that he found it "totally unacceptable and out of order," adding that it amounted to an attempt to put undue pressure on the judgment of the commission.

The decision to ban Shoaib and Asif for two years and a year respectively was eventually overturned by a subsequent appeals committee, headed by Justice Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, earlier this week. But Hamid stood firm in the belief that the initial judgment was correct. "I fully stand by our verdict and am absolutely sure that we made the right decision at the end of it all."

Ashraf, however, rubbished suggestions that he had tried to influence the commission in any way. Speaking to Cricinfo from Dubai where he was attending an ICC meeting, Ashraf said, "The suggestion that I tried to influence any of the decisions is absolute hogwash. The full contents of the letter actually prove that this was indeed a totally independent commission. The letter actually contradicts the story that any influence was exerted."

Ashraf insisted that both processes had been fair and transparent. "Both tribunals were completely independent and a due process was followed throughout to reach the respective verdicts."

Below are the six points the chairman asked the commission to consider:

1. Players must have full opportunity to be legally represented.
2. Notes to be taken of their evidence and these notes should be sent in written form to the legal counsel of the players so that they can give comments hereby avoiding any misunderstanding of their testimony.
3. The analytical material must be evaluated by independent expert appointed by the disciplinary commission.
4. The PCB team doctor, PCB coach and any other coaches and doctors involved officially or unofficially must be asked to give testimony. This is particularly important in this light of the fact that the concentration of Nandrolone found in the two samples is quite consistent with the use of contaminated food supplements.
5. Independent experts in the field must be asked to testify before the Commission before a final decision is reached.
6. A final meeting should be held with the players to give them opportunity to make final representations if they so wish with the aid of their legal counsel.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo