Sunday, January 14, 2007

Asif is Lucky He's Not An Aussie

In 2003 Shane Warne was banned from all cricket for one year by the Australian Cricket Board after failing a drugs test for taking a diuretic. At the time I agreed with the view of the Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates who warned: "This is a stark reminder to everyone that you have to know what's inside your body and you're responsible for what you take."

It was a little harsh on Warne, as I doubt anyone believed that he had taken a performance enhancing drug, he was just trying to lose some weight. However, it was a relief that cricket was not going the same way as athletics, cycling and tennis, where sportsmen who failed a test would portray themselves as a victim and would employ an army of lawyers to escape punishment. Warne had broken the rules and he was banned for a year.

Mohammad Asif was cleared last month by a Pakistan Cricket Board committee of knowingly taking the banned steroid nandrolone, over-turning the previous decision to ban him from cricket for a year. He had broken the rules, he has gone unpunished.

If the Pakistan Cricket Board believe that the rules are wrong then they should lobby hard to get the rules changed. Otherwise they should uphold the rules.

The long term impact on cricket can only be guessed at, but it is upsetting that the Pakistan Cricket Board did not follow the precedent set by the ACB. It is unfortunate that the next cricket Board to face this issue will have a different precedent to follow.