Mohammad Asif has been suspended by the Pakistan board for testing positive for a banned substance during random drug tests conducted during the Indian Premier League. To make it worse for Asif, the Pakistan board has refused to assist him in the matter, though he has the right to appeal against the suspension. Asif has said he will ask for a testing of his B sample.
"Asif has been suspended until the drug tribunal of the IPL completes its inquiry," Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, said. "For the time being he is suspended from playing all forms of the game until further decision which includes the right of appeal."
The board also said it would go by the decision taken by the IPL's drug tribunal. "Since Asif competed in a tournament outside Pakistan, we will honour the findings of the IPL drug tribunal and will assist them if required," Naghmi said.
He also explained the PCB's decision to not provide assistance to Asif. "Our policy on dope offenders is very clear," he told The News. "The board will not provide any kind of help to Asif and he will have to fight his case himself. The player seems to be in a lot of trouble. A second drug offence means a life ban."
If he is left to fight for himself this time, it will signal a distinct change in the board's policy. In 2006, Asif and Shoaib Akhtar had their bans overturned after successfully appealing to an independent committee against the original punishments. Though they escaped on a technicality, it was widely speculated that the decision had the PCB's complicit support.
Asif, who said he was "shocked and surprised" at failing the test, has asked for his B sample to be examined. "We will fight the case because we believe that our client has not taken any drug so we will go for the B sample test and do whatever required to clear Asif's name," his lawyer Shahid Karim told AFP.
This is Asif's second drug offence since failing a dope test before the Champions Trophy in 2006, and the board has warned that a life ban is possible if he is found guilty. Last month he was detained in Dubai for 19 days under suspicion of possessing a contraband substance and is already the subject of a board inquiry into those events.
While the PCB has chosen to distance itself from the current controversy, it hasn't stopped former Pakistan cricketers from lashing out at its functioning. Aamer Sohail, a former captain, has blamed the board for not taking appropriate action against doping after Asif and Shoaib tested positive for Nandrolone, a banned substance, in 2006.
"My question is, what has the PCB done in this regard," Sohail told the News. "What measures did the board take since Asif and Shoaib Akhtar tested positive for banned drugs in 2006? Did they introduce dope testing in domestic cricket? The board has totally failed to handle things.
"The last two years have been the worst for Pakistan cricket and the situation will get worse if no action is taken."
The IPL had announced on Monday that Asif's sample was positive after comparing the result from the WADA-approved laboratory in Switzerland [that tested the samples] with the data collected by IDTM, the Sweden-based independent agency that organised the tests.
Asif played eight of the Delhi Daredevils' 15 matches in the IPL, taking eight wickets with an economy rate of 9.25.