The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Thursday it was likely to rule on the World Anti-Doping Agency's appeal against the lifting of bans on Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif within four months. "In accordance with the code of sports-related arbitration, the Arbitral Panel to be appointed will issue directions regarding the arbitration procedure in due course," the court said in a statement.
"As a general rule, the CAS delivers its decisions within four months from the filing of the appeal," the statement issued from Lausanne, Switzerland said. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last month filed an appeal with the court against a decision by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Anti-Doping Appeals Committee. "In the decision against which the appeal has been filed, the PCB Anti-Doping Appeals Committee set aside a previous decision ... in which one-year and two-year periods of ineligibility were imposed on Mr. Mohammad Asif and Mr. Shoaib Akhtar respectively," the court's statement said.
"The periods of ineligibility were imposed for anti-doping rule infractions, following the detection of a metabolite of nandrolone in the urine samples of both cricketers," the statement added. If the court sticks to the four-month timeframe then both Akhtar and Asif could play in the World Cup to be held in the West Indies in March-April this year, providing bans are not reimposed.
Akhtar and Asif tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone in tests conducted in September and were pulled out of Pakistan's team touring India in October. The PCB tribunal conducted an inquiry and found both players guilty of using banned substances. The players accepted the results of the tests and turned down an offer to have their B samples tested. Subsequently the tribunal banned the two players, a decision hailed by WADA and the International Cricket Council (ICC).
However, both players appealed against the ban. An appellate committee headed by a retired judge last month overturned the bans on the grounds that both players did not take the substances knowingly. WADA has challenged that decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Asif is with Pakistan's team currently touring South Africa while Akhtar was not selected for the tour.
WADA said it cannot stop the players from featuring in the international events, as playing rights are with the ICC. The PCB had played down WADA's appeal, saying any reservations by the WADA or the ICC would not affect the players