Jan 30, 2009

Sport - Cricket;Asif banned for one year from IPL

KARACHI: Pakistani pacer Mohammad Asif was on Friday banned for one year by the Indian Premier League (IPL) for a positive dope test.

Asif's agent Salman Ahmed confirmed the ban and said Asif will now concentrate on his training in a bid to play for Pakistan later this year.

Asif has been banned for a year, starting Sept 15, 2008, which means he would be eligible to play international cricket ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy which is scheduled in Pakistan from September 24.

Asif, 26, tested positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone in the inaugural season of the IPL last May. He had attended a hearing conducted in Mumbai Saturday by the IPL drugs tribunal wherein the player claimed that a new eyedrop he used was the reason for the rise in the nandrolone level.

He blamed Keratyl eyedrop medication for the positive test and hoped that the verdict will go his way.

"The tribunal has accepted that it was the eye drops which I used which contained nandrolone," he had said on his return to Karachi earlier this week.

However, the IPL tribunal was apparently not convinced. Asif also tested positive for nandrolone during the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy in India.

His agent said Asif remains focused in spite of the ban and will be training in the coming months to get fit for national duty.

However, Asif has another hurdle in the way of his comeback. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is probing Asif's 19-day detention in Dubai in June. The player was caught at the Dubai airport with a small quantity of opium and was detained there before being deported to Pakistan.

He appeared before a three-man inquiry committee formed by the PCB to probe the Dubai detention case. The probe committee, headed by former Pakistan Test wicketkeeper Waseem Bari, heard Asif's side of the story during its first meeting at the PCB headquarters in Lahore Thursday.

The committee will meet again on February 6 before submitting its recommendations to PCB chairman Ijaz Butt. Meanwhile, newspaper reports on Thursday suggested that Asif is free to enter UAE contrary to earlier reports which said that the player has been barred from entering the country because of the opium episode.

Saleem Altaf, PCB's chief operating officer, was quoted as saying that according to an independent report received by the Board from Dubai, Asif is not banned from entering UAE as no criminal charges were filed against him.

The news report said a Dubai-based law firm hired by PCB to re-examine Asif's case has given him an all-clear as far as the Dubai detention case is concerned.

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