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Cricket: Asif's opium possession results in call for probe

Asif's opium possession results in call for probeThe Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will conduct an investigation into Mohammad Asif's detention in Dubai last year for possessing a small amount of opium, agreeing to demands of senators and politicians after reports of the case became public two days ago. Having tried thus far to sidestep the issue in the face of a separate doping charge on the fast bowler, the PCB will now await the documents of the case before starting an internal inquiry.

The previous administration, under whom the incident took place, had reportedly completed its own internal inquiry on the matter, in which they recommended a financial penalty and ban on Asif, but during the administrative changeover between August and September last year, the report seems to have disappeared.

Asif was stopped at Dubai Airport on June 1 after being caught with 0.24 grams of opium on his way back to Pakistan after playing in the Indian Premier League. He was detained for 19 days before eventually being deported. Documents from the Dubai public prosecutor leaked to the press recently confirmed the identity of the substance Asif was found with and also that he admitted to using it, though he denied that it was opium. On the recommendation of the public prosecutor, the attorney general deported Asif, which means he can never return to the country.

At a senate standing committee on sports meeting, senators grilled PCB officials over the case and their lack of action since taking over. "Youngsters will be encouraged to take drugs if Asif is not banned," senator Enver Baig told board chairman Ijaz Butt. Senator Tahir Mashadi said Asif's admission he took the substance would leave a bad impression on the Pakistani youth. "We have great expectations from our sportsmen, they are role models," Mashadi said. "The PCB needs to take some strict action against Asif so that a clear-cut message be given to youngsters."

Butt said he had no knowledge of a report from the Dubai public prosecutor. "We didn't have the copy of it because former chief operating officer of the PCB, Shafqat Naghmi, took it away with him when he left the PCB on October 18 last year," Butt told the committee. He was asked to get the report within the next three days and start a probe into the matter.

"The reports from Dubai which were in the press are not with us," Saleem Altaf, chief operating officer PCB, told Mag4you. "A journalist presented them to the committee and we have asked for a fax which we will get tomorrow. further we will also write to Shafqat Naghmi and ask him to provide us with the documents and the board report he says is completed. We will begin an internal probe into the matter based on the documents we receive."

Soon after the Dubai incident, Asif tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone while representing the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, the second time in his short career he has tested positive for that steroid. He currently stands suspended from playing domestic and international cricket by the PCB.

He has filed an appeal with the IPL's drug tribunal, which was first shifted to London but will now be held on Jan. 24 in Mumbai, India. "Asif's appeal is lying pending with the IPL drug tribunal and we will see what their verdict is," Butt said.

Asif said the Dubai incident is now a "closed chapter" for him and had nothing to do with his IPL hearing. He has asked the PCB if he can travel to Mumbai to appear before the drug tribunal.

"My (IPL) case is quite strong and I am hopeful of getting positive verdict," Asif told AP. "I don't know whether they will announce the decision on Jan. 24 or take some time in reaching their verdict."

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