Pakistan news February 7, 2016

Yasir suspended for three months for doping offence

Yasir Shah clarified before the ICC that he had inadvertently taken his wife's blood pressure medicine © AFP

Pakistan legspinner Yasir Shah has been handed a three-month suspension by the ICC after he pleaded guilty to breaching the ICC's Anti-Doping Code that relates to the presence of a banned substance in a player's sample.

The bowler will be available to play again from March 27, once the retrospective penalty ends. The three-month penalty was backdated to December 27, when Yasir was provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned substance, an ICC release said.

The ban rules Yasir out of the ongoing Pakistan Super League, the upcoming Asia Cup and the World T20. The earliest he could return is for the tour of England in June.

A sample taken from Yasir on November 13, when Pakistan played an ODI against England in Abu Dhabi, was found to contain chlortalidone, which is on WADA's prohibited list of diuretics and masking agents and is prohibited both in-competition and out-of-competition. Chlortalidone is also used to treat high blood pressure.

According to the release, during disciplinary proceedings, Yasir clarified that he had inadvertently taken his wife's blood pressure medication and had no intention of enhancing his performance or masking the use of another performance-enhancing substance. Yasir pleaded guilty to breaching Article 2.1 of the ICC's anti-doping code, which deals with "the presence of a Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers in a Player's Sample."

"While making the decision, the ICC accepted that Mr Shah had inadvertently ingested the 'Specified Substance' for therapeutic reasons, specifically to treat his blood pressure," the ICC said. "He was able to satisfy the ICC through evidence and submissions prepared on his behalf by the Pakistan Cricket Board that he had no intention to enhance his sporting performance or to mask the use of another performance enhancing substance and had, instead, mistakenly taken his wife's blood pressure medication that was identical in appearance to his own but which contained the prohibited substance chlortalidone.

"However, Mr Shah has accepted that he had failed to satisfy the high levels of personal responsibility incumbent upon him as an international cricketer subject to anti-doping rules."

While stating that it had independent evidence corroborating Yasir's account, the ICC cited that the player had informed Pakistan physiotherapist Bradley Robinson and the Doping Control Officer in attendance at the time that he had taken the medicine. In its detailed report on the matter, the ICC said: "It has confirmed that during the doping control process YS [Yasir Shah] informed Pakistan team physiotherapist Bradley Robinson that he had taken a single blood pressure tablet some 4 days previously, which had been given to him by his wife with both (1) the Doping Control Officer who was in attendance at the time; and (2) with the ICC's AntiDoping and Medical Officer, to whom Mr Robinson relayed his conversation with YS regarding the blood pressure medication whilst YS and the Doping Control Officer were completing the Doping Control Form."

While he is suspended, Yasir cannot play - or be involved in any capacity in - international matches, and games organised by any national cricket board or its affiliated members.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson