Dale Steyn has said he was "very disappointed" at public reaction during his recent drug scare and says that, though his name has been cleared after providing an adverse analytical finding during routine testing in the IPL, he fears some people will always associate him with illegal substance abuse.

"I kept being assured by our own team doctor that I had nothing to worry about but everyone else's first reaction was to immediately think I'd done something wrong," Steyn told Cricinfo. "People's reactions have probably been the hardest thing to deal with.

"When I was first told that there was an adverse finding I thought it was a joke. I actually laughed because as a professional cricketer I've been always been really careful about what medicine I take. Then I was told that this was going to a medical review committee and I got pretty scared. Maybe there had been a mistake? Anyway, I'm happy that it's over now - even though it should never have happened in the first place," Steyn said.

Many South African officials are still wary of speaking on the issue, given that it involves the powerful IPL, but the belief that Steyn was shabbily treated is clearly widespread. "He took a common headache medicine - Myprodol - containing codeine, which is not a prohibited substance. In certain people codeine can cause a high concentration of morphine in the urine. Anyone who has laboratory experience in analysing this situation knows that a slightly higher presence of morphine than otherwise permitted is totally acceptable where there is also this level of codeine," one CSA official said.

South African Cricketers Association (SACA) chief executive Tony Irish was equally condemnatory of the laboratory. "This has been a nightmare situation where a laboratory's poor handling of a player's test sample has left a very unfair question mark over that player," he said.

"South Africa's Institute for Drug Free Sport is a very competent organisation with established protocols and procedures. There is a fully accredited laboratory in Bloemfontein which would have handled this whole thing properly," Irish said. "It would have taken them a few hours to confirm that there shouldn't even be an adverse analytical finding. It would have all been quite normal. The Doping Control Laboratory used by IPL was an outsourced commercial one located outside SA.

"Someone owes Dale Steyn a big apology."

Neil Manthorp is a South African broadcaster and journalist, and head of the MWP Sport agency