No player in the Pakistan squad will go to the World Cup without having undergone a dope test, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) reaffirmed today.
"Unless a player has had a dope test conducted he is not going to the World Cup. It is as simple as that," Saleem Altaf, director cricket operations, told telepk.com
Altaf was responding to growing concern over the fact that three players from the squad of 15 (and five reserves) were yet to be tested. In particular, the absence of Mohammad Asif and Shoaib Akhtar from the testing, held over the weekend in Karachi and Lahore by the PCB, had led to raised eyebrows.
Both players tested positive for an anabolic steroid last year and were handed bans, only for the verdict to be controversially overturned a month later. After a doping expert Danish Zaheer warned that they still might be carrying traces of Nandrolone in their bloodstream, enough perhaps for another positive test, speculation had grown not only over what might happen were Asif and Shoaib to be tested again, but whether they would be tested at all.
Along with Shahid Afridi both fast bowlers have been in and out of the Pakistan squad since the end of the South African tour. They went to the UK for medical advice on injuries and Asif is yet to return. Surprisingly, though, Shoaib returned to Pakistan over the weekend when the testing was carried out, though he wasn't part of it. He is now in Malaysia for commercial purposes.
But with the preparatory camp for the World Cup due to begin from February 23 in Lahore, the three will have reported for testing by then.
"All three have been in and out of Pakistan. Asif is not yet back and neither is Afridi. Shoaib is also expected back soon but the camp begins from the 23rd and all three will be tested. There is no question of it being avoided because if it doesn't happen, the player is not going," Altaf added.
In addition to the concerns over doping, both fast bowlers are suffering from injuries; Asif appears to have had a flare-up of the elbow problem that forced him to miss three Tests in England last year, while Shoaib is suffering from a knee problem that ruined much of his last year. They are in Pakistan's World Cup squad subject to their fitness and doping tests.