Mohammad Asif will appeal a one-year ban handed out by the Indian Premier League after he tested positive for the banned drug nandrolone. The Pakistan fast bowler was found to have the drug in his system during the inaugural edition of the IPL in May last year. Asif, 26, was found guilty by an IPL drugs tribunal comprising the former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, the leading lawyer Shirish Gupte and the medical expert Dr Ravi Bapat, but insists he will challenge the suspension. "I didn't take any banned substances intentionally so I am not pleased with this ban," he said. "We will appeal against the ban. I don't want to carry the stigma of having been found guilty of taking banned substances." The IPL said in a statement: "Mohammad Asif was found guilty by the IPL drugs tribunal in as much as a prohibited substance, namely nandrolone, was found in the urine sample extracted from the player during the support period and the match played on May 30, 2008 between the Delhi Daredevils and the Rajasthan Royals at Mumbai. "The ban on Mohammad Asif will commence from Sept 22, 2008 as that was the date on which the IPL had imposed the suspension order." Asif was immediately suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) from all forms of cricket immediately after the adverse test was made public in July last year. The fast bowler was stunned by the revelation and had asked for his B sample to be tested.
That sample too returned a positive test, but the levels of nandrolone in his urine samples had varied significantly and Asif had decided to challenge the results. A hearing before the drugs tribunal was scheduled for Oct 11, but that meeting proved inconclusive and a second hearing was scheduled for Nov 29. The second hearing was postponed due to the Mumbai attacks and was later rescheduled for Jan 24. The drugs panel heard arguments in Asif's defence presented by his lawyer Shahid Karim and the medical expert Michael Graham. Asif had told the panel that the raised levels of nandrolone in his urine samples had been caused by Keratyl, an eyedrop which had been prescribed for an inflammatory eye condition. The hearing concluded without a verdict being passed, but now the drugs tribunal have decided to ban Asif for a year. Asif also tested positive for the banned substance during an out-of-competition test conducted by the PCB in October 2006 and missed the Champions Trophy as a consequence.
Despite being found guilty, Asif's international exile does not seem permanent with the PCB indicating he would be back in the national team as soon as the suspension expires. "Once the ban is over we will consider him and also think about giving him a central contract," the PCB chairman Ijaz Butt said. "But we are also waiting for the findings of our internal committee, which is probing his detention in Dubai. "Once the committee gives its findings at the end of this month, we will decide if he is to be punished or cleared." Asif was detained in Dubai for 19 days in June last year after the authorities found 0.24 grams of opium in his wallet. *PA Sport