The PCB chairman, Ijaz Butt, has ordered an inquiry into fast bowler Mohammad Asif's detention in Dubai last year for possessing opium. The board has kept Asif under suspension since he tested positive in the IPL; he last played for Pakistan in April 2008.
A three-member committee, consisting of Wasim Bari, the former Pakistan wicketkeeper and now director of human resources, Sohail Saleem, a doctor, and Asif Sohail, the PCB's acting director of media, will probe the matter. "We had sought the legal advice on this case and the PCB chairman has formed the committee to look into this matter," PCB chief operating officer Saleem Altaf told the Associated Press. "Moreover, the International Cricket Council had also inquired from us whether we had investigated the matter or not." The committee, which will start work on Friday, has not been given any time-frame to conclude its investigation, Altaf said.
Asif was detained at Dubai airport for 19 days in June 2008 on his way back to Pakistan from the IPL. Dubai authorities found 0.24 grams of opium in his wallet but decided, despite deporting him, the case was not worth pursuing. Asif admitted during an interrogation that he had used the substance earlier in the year.
The PCB's order comes soon after it emerged that the ICC was taking an interest in the case as well, having recently announced a revamped and stringent anti-doping policy. Altaf said the board had received a copy of the Dubai authorities' investigations - leaked to the public earlier this week - from the ICC. "Yes, the ICC has inquired about Asif's incident and have sent us the copy of the Dubai investigation," he said. "We will provide them with more information once we receive legal advice from our lawyers."
Earlier this week, Pakistani senators had also demanded the board conduct a probe into Asif's detention. The previous administration, under whom the incident took place, claims it carried out an internal inquiry and produced a report, which has not yet seen the light of day. In its latest order, the PCB has said Shafqat Naghmi, the board's former chief operating officer, "stole (for reasons rooted in the ulterior) the file containing the order of inquiry as also the documents received from Dubai at the time the present management took over."
Asif was due to travel to New Delhi on Thursday to sort out financial issues with his IPL team, the Delhi Daredevils, but has delayed his departure. "I was due to fly on Thursday afternoon, but now I might go to New Delhi either tomorrow or on Saturday," he said. "I have to go and sort out this money issue because I was not paid a single penny."
He is set to appear before the IPL drugs tribunal on January 24 in Mumbai. Asif had appealed against his positive test for nandrolone, with the level of the drug having varied in his two samples.