PCB completes dope tests on players

The Pakistan Cricket Board completed its out-of-competition dope tests on 26 leading players, including Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, almost a week before naming the final 15-man squad for September's Twenty20 World Championship.

Sohail Salim, the PCB's medical officer, said urine samples had been collected from all players featuring in the Karachi-leg of the training camp. The samples will be sent to a WADA-accredited laboratory in Malaysia.

"All the samples have been collected and we hope to get the results of the tests in about a week's time," Salim told the News.

Four players from the probables haven't yet given samples as they are currently playing county cricket in England, though Salim said a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) representative will collect their samples on behalf of the board soon.

Results of the tests will be available with the board before the national selectors name the final squad on August 6, thus avoiding the situation that arose during the Champions Trophy last year when Shoaib and Asif were included in the squad only to pull out a day before the first match because their positive results came late. This is the third time that the board has opted for out-of-competition dope tests on the country's leading players in less than a year.

The tests weren't without controversy as it emerged later that the board may not have adhered strictly to WADA regulations during its testing, despite claims that its policy was now fully WADA-compliant.

Doubts were raised in a radio report because samples from some of the players were taken on Monday evening while others were asked to be available for the procedure on Tuesday. The WADA code says that an athlete must present himself for testing within one hour after being notified in writing.

The code reads: "The players have a maximum of one hour to present themselves at the Doping Control Room for testing. During this time, they will be free to attend any post-match commitments, such as a presentation or press conference, but they will always be accompanied (albeit discreetly) by Sampling Officers, including inside the dressing rooms. All Team Managers and the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit are aware of these protocols."

Dr. Danish Zaheer, a WADA accredited officer told Voice of America that if the one-hour notice protocol has been done away with, WADA can challenge the collection of players' samples.