The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) has set up an independent panel to examine the jurisdiction of the court that is currently hearing the doping cases of Mohammad Asif and Shoaib Akhtar. Only if the panel finds that the court does have jurisdiction will the hearing continue.
In an attempt to preempt any findings from the panel, the ICC has said that Pakistan will be able to replace any members of their squad who fail dope tests ahead of the World Cup. A precedent was set during the 2003 event in South Africa when Shane Warne was sent home at the start of the tournament for using a diuretic.
The Shoaib and Asif cases were referred to the court, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) in December last year. WADA had expressed concern with the conclusions of an appellate committee, constituted by the PCB, which lifted bans imposed on both bowlers by an earlier tribunal after concluding that they hadn't been educated properly about doping issues by the PCB.
But a PCB official told Mag4you.com that the board had received communication from the CAS that independent panel was examining whether the court had jurisdiction to arbitrate over such a matter. "They have set up a panel with three independent arbitrators, from the US, Britain and France, which will examine whether the court has jurisdiction to act on a matter such as this.
"Only in the event that they find that 'yes, they do have jurisdiction', will the case continue to be heard," the official added. The three panelists are David Rivkin (USA), Peter Leaver QC (UK) and Jan Paulsson (France), all established legal experts.
The PCB has argued this very point since WADA took notice and filed an appeal on the lifting of the bans. The matter, they assert, was an internal one and was closed once the appellate committee made public its findings: the dope tests and the subsequent hearings were all carried out locally and punishments or otherwise were made according to the PCB's anti-doping code. Thus WADA and the ICC were in no position to take any further action.
But among others, Shahid Hamid, the head of the first committee which found the bowlers guilty of doping and banned them, has also argued that Pakistan are obliged to follow WADA's code.
He told AFP last December: "It is a fact that the Pakistan government signed the Copenhagen declaration in 2003, like other 186 governments, including 38 countries in Asia," he said. "The Pakistan government has paid to WADA the annual and subscription fee for the years 2006 and 2007.
"This declaration, through culture and sports ministries, binds us to follow the WADA codes and under clause 13 of their codes, WADA has the right of appeal against the decision of a national anti-doping commission whether it is done during the competition or out of competition."
The official said, though, that there was no timeline on when the panel is expected to decide.