Mohammad Asif, the Pakistan fast bowler, has been detained by authorities in Dubai on suspicion of possessing drugs. The fast bowler, who tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone nearly two years ago, was held back by airport authorities on Sunday. According to a PCB official already in Dubai, no charges have yet been brought against Asif, though he remains in the detention centre at Dubai International Airport.
Nadeem Akram, a senior board official who is in Dubai handling the case, said officials had not yet identified what the substance is. "It has been sent to a lab for testing but we do not know yet what it is," Akram, in Dubai since Sunday, told Cricinfo.
Akram also stressed that Asif hadn't yet been arrested and that he had been detained. "No charges have been brought yet. We have a lawyer here and he is due to meet the public prosecutor at 12.30pm Dubai time. We will know more about the case after their meeting."
Akram has been in constant touch with Asif, who was understandably "shattered" by the events, but maintained that he did not know what the substance was and had been carrying it in his wallet for several months.
Earlier, a PCB official told Cricinfo that Asif "has been held since the day before yesterday in Dubai. So far the authorities haven't told us much but that it is on suspicion of possessing a contraband item." Dubai's laws on drug possession and use are among the strictest in the region, though the top hierarchy of the PCB has always enjoyed close ties with leaders in the United Arab Emirates.
The Pakistan board was to hold a press conference about the issue in the afternoon but decided to push it back till 4.30pm (PST), presumably to wait and hear developments from the meeting between Asif's lawyer and the public prosecutor.
Asif, along with Shoaib Akhtar, tested positive in an internal dope test conducted by the Pakistan board in October 2006. He was initially banned for one year, though the ban was overturned on appeal a month later. Since then, one of the most promising fast bowlers on the world circuit has been dogged by a long-standing elbow problem. The injury had already taken the sheen away from a prodigious start to his international career and this new development is likely to do so even more.