x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

PCB: Asif was caught with opium

A PCB confirms that Mohammad Asif was in possession of opium when he was detained in Dubai earlier this year.

ISLAMABAD // A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official has confirmed that Mohammad Asif was in possession of opium when he was detained in Dubai earlier this year and has recommended the fast bowler be banned and fined. "It was proved during our investigation that Asif was caught with a small amount of opium at the Dubai airport," Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's former chief operating officer and member of its inquiry committee, said today.

In June, on his way home from playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament, Asif was detained for 19 days in Dubai, after authorities allegedly found a substance containing opium in his wallet at the international airport. The 25-year-old was accused of carrying 0.01 ounces (0.25 grams) of opium, but he tested negative for drugs and was released without being charged. But he was questioned by Dubai authorities for drug possession and smuggling while he remained in custody at the airport's detention centre.

"He was actually deported from Dubai as the amount of opium was not enough to lay down charges," Naghmi said. The PCB later formed a three-member inquiry committee - headed by Naghmi - and suspended Asif from playing international and national cricket after it emerged the paceman had tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone in the IPL in May. Asif has filed an appeal with the IPL drug tribunal in Mumbai, India, and his next hearing will be held on Nov 29. "We have completed the draft of the report, but the new officials in the PCB have not so far asked us to submit it," Naghmi said.

Earlier this month, Naghmi was replaced by the former Test fast bowler Salim Altaf on the PCB while Ejaz Butt took over as the cricket's board's new chairman, replacing Nasim Ashraf. "The new chairman didn't talk to me after his appointment, but even now if the PCB just sends me a letter to submit our findings on Asif's case, I will do so," Naghmi said. The former PCB official said that the other two members of the committee - the former PCB Director of Human Resources Nadeem Akram and present Director of Cricket Operations (International) Zakir Khan - have recommended a ban of several international matches and financial penalty on Asif.

"I have already drafted the report in which we have also taken into account the statement of Asif that he recorded before all three of us," Naghmi said. "The draft is with me and I just have to sign it and send it to the PCB." Naghmi said the investigation found that Asif had violated a number of PCB's rules on players code of conduct. "I can't reveal exactly what we have recommended, but I can say that Asif breached a number of rules and regulations for which we suggested a ban of several international matches and also financial penalty," he said.

In 2006, Asif and fellow Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar were withdrawn from the Champions Trophy after testing positive for nandrolone during the PCB's internal testing. Naghmi said that it is now up to the new PCB board to pursue the matter of Asif's case. "It's up to the chairman to decide and we can only give our recommendations," Naghmi said. Asif was compared with Australian great Glen McGrath for his smooth bowling action and accuracy as he took 51 wickets in 11 Test matches at an impressive average of 23.13.

In the 31 one-day internationals, Asif has taken 36 wickets. *AP