Dale Steyn, the South African fast bowler, has come under a doping cloud with Cricket South Africa (CSA) acknowledging an "adverse finding" against him following a test conducted during the second IPL but attributing the result to legitimate painkillers he had taken at the time.
Steyn was out of action for most of the IPL in South Africa in April-May due to a thumb injury and played only three matches for Bangalore Royal Challengers.
"We are aware of the result and submitted a report immediately to the IPL on why this has happened," Gerald Majola, CSA's chief executive told Cricinfo. "There was a marginal increase in the presence of morphine in the sample and that was due to painkillers he took during that period. We are awaiting a reply from the IPL authorities."
However, a Royal Challengers official said the franchise had no knowledge of this development. "Till Sunday night, Royal Challengers had no information or knowledge on this," Prakash Mirpuri, a vice-president of the UB Group, which owns the Bangalore franchise, told Cricinfo. "We can only comment if we receive official communication from CSA/IPL."
Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, told Cricinfo Steyn had not failed any test and that the procedure was at the clarification stage. "From what I gather, the agency that conducts these tests for IPL (ITDM) may have asked Cricket South Africa for a clarification on the results of Steyn's test since he is contracted to that board," he said. "The next step is taken only when the agency is not satisfied with the explanation provided. In Steyn's case, this process is at the clarification stage. Officially, the IPL is yet to come into the picture."
Dr Mohammad Moosajee, South Africa's team doctor and a member of CSA's medical committee, was confident Steyn wouldn't face any action despite the adverse finding, which was first reported by the sport24 website.
"This is not a doping violation as such but an adverse analytical finding, which is different," Moosajee told Cricinfo. "Dale is known to have a history of chronic migraines and he suffered a thumb injury too during the IPL and he was on Myprodol, a painkiller that contains codeine. Codeine converts to morphine within the body and that led to the adverse finding. Dale had taken the painkiller on the day of the test and the morphine level in his sample was found to be slightly higher (1.1 to 1.3 microgram per ml) than the 1 microgram per ml that is permitted.
"This is a matter between the IPL franchise and IPL but since Dale is also a CSA-contracted player, we were informed and we are now assisting in the process. We have sent a detailed report to the IPL and are awaiting a reply. We are confident that he will be cleared."
Codeine does not figure in the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) list of prohibited substances but morphine has been classified under narcotics.
Moosajee said there was some confusion regarding the situation because the brand name of the painkiller is different in South Africa. "This also led to miscommunication in the Theraupatiuc Use Exemption (TUE) form that the player submitted before the test," Moosajee said. Players are expected to fill these TUE forms before a test so that the testers are aware of the medication the player is under.
Steyn is the second fast bowler to come under scrutiny for a failed drug test in the IPL; Pakistan's Mohammad Asif was banned for one year after testing positive for nandrolone, which is a banned substance, in the inaugural season in 2008.
Ajay Shankar is a deputy editor at Cricinfo