The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has welcomed the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) to reject WADA's appeal against its two leading pace bowlers as a vindication of its stand and says its has now adopted a WADA-compliant doping policy.
Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid in tests conducted by the PCB in October last year. They were banned by a tribunal set up by the board, only for the decision to be overturned by a subsequent appellate tribunal, also constituted by the PCB. That decision - and the fact that the game's governing body, the ICC, could take no action as the tests were conducted out of competition - prompted WADA to lodge an appeal with the CAS.
"The CAS has rejected WADA's appeal. Our position, our policy has been vindicated. The PCB and Pakistan cricket have been vindicated," Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the PCB, told Mag4you.com. "We followed the correct procedure throughout and it has been a terrible burden on the players. We are very happy about this and both players, now fully cleared, can look ahead and concentrate on their cricket."
Ashraf also revealed that the board, during its last ad-hoc committee meeting in June, had officially adopted a WADA-compliant doping policy. The legal crux of the overturning of the bans had rested on the difference between the PCB's own doping policy and that of WADA. Under WADA's policies they would have been banned; under the PCB's they escaped punishment.
Pakistan's policy has been in place since 2002, much before the ICC had even adopted a WADA-compliant policy. But bringing the PCB's policy in line with international norms is the first of a few steps the board is taking to ensure something like this never happens again.
"We adopted a WADA-compliant policy at our last board meeting. And we maintain our zero-tolerance policy on doping in sports. We had a doping policy in place before many other members had one and we have now brought it in line with international standards," Ashraf said.
The board plans to continue carrying out its own tests at regular intervals, before competitions and series and before training camps. Measures are also being taken to enhance its drugs awareness programmes, which, many felt when the crisis emerged, had been lacking. "We are taking steps to educate not just the national team but junior players too. We have compiled videos and produce literature, in Urdu, specifically aimed at junior players from all over Pakistan," Ashraf said.
Despite not being banned, Asif and Shoaib missed the World Cup, officially because they were injured. Speculation at the time suggested that both were still at risk of testing positive at an ICC-event for the steroid Nandrolone, which can remain in the body for months. Ironically, since the decision last December, Shoaib has only played a day's worth of international cricket.