|Player:||Rameez Raja, BC Lara|
Former Pakistan cricket greats said the decision to overturn a doping ban on fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif would be tough to explain to the cricketing world. "I think for the outside world it becomes an eyewash, the same as I see it. I am happy for the bowlers but it has become a controversial issue," ex-captain and former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Ramiz Raja said. Akhtar and Asif won their appeals by a 2-1 majority on Tuesday. Akhtar had been banned for two years and Asif for one year in November, following their positive tests for the banned steroid nandrolone. The appeals committee, headed by retired judge Fakhruddin Ibrahim, concluded the players honestly believed that the nutritional supplements they were taking did not contain banned substances. The PCB said it was satisfied with the decision and any reservations from the International Cricket Council (ICC) or World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) would not affect the players. But Raja said there were technical flaws in the whole process. He said the initial doping tribunal that banned the pair was told to work under WADA and ICC rules but the appeals committee worked under local PCB rules "and found that 'get-away clause' which cleared the two bowlers".
Raja, now a television commentator, blamed the PCB for the whole issue.
"I think they have messed up the whole issue and once again Pakistan is in focus for wrong reasons. You need to convince others about the decision," said Raja. Another former captain, Mushtaq Mohammad, said Pakistan had become a laughing stock in the cricket world. "There was no need for this whole doping drama," he said. "A competent committee was chosen to deal with the guilt and now suddenly the second committee overturned the ban." But Mohammad said Akhtar and Asif's return would strengthen Pakistan's bowling. "I am glad for the boys," said Mohammad, one of four Mohammad brothers who played for Pakistan. Former fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz said the PCB "needs to apologize to the nation. They must share the reports of tests with the public". Nawaz hoped that world cricketing authorities would back the decision. "I hope that since the tests were conducted by the PCB internally, the ICC and the WADA will accept the new decision, but it will be tough to convince them." West Indian captain Brian Lara said he was happy for Akhtar and Asif.
"The PCB has handled the situation and it's important we move on. Two human beings were involved and on a personal note I am very happy for them, and I hope they can move on with their careers. It is important for their cricket, it's important for Pakistan cricket and it's important for world cricket to ensure that this situation doesn't spiral into anything else," Lara told reporters in Faisalabad, where his team take on Pakistan in the second one-day on Wednesday. The PCB said both Akhtar and Asif were free to play but the duo would first feature in domestic competition to get fit for international matches.