|Player:||Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, Younis Khan, Naved-ul-Hasan|
|Event:||ICC Champions Trophy 2006/07|
DateLine: 18th October 2006
Pakistan's wretched period took a turn for the worse when two key members of their squad, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif were recalled from the Champions Trophy as they had tested positive for banned substances. In drug tests conducted at the end of last month, the duo had reportedly tested positive for steroids. In a pre-emptive move to avoid further embarrassment, the Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to pull the duo out of their squad.
Pakistan cricket seems to be under a curse. After the Darrell Hair controversy in the Oval Test, a captain has been banned, a PCB has chief has gone and a captain has created much bad blood by refusing to take up the reins for the Champions Trophy before saying yes. It cannot get murkier for the Asian giants. For a country with enormous cricket talent, controversies seem to be permanent features of Pakistan.
"What was my initial reaction? Disappointment," coach Bob Woolmer told a televised press conference in Jaipur where Pakistan face Sri Lanka in their opening Champions Trophy match on Tuesday. "We asked the (PCB) medical panel to give the players drug tests which they did at the end of September, so I take responsibility for that certainly," the English-born coach added. "I have never come across anything like this in my life. The timing is not great, but if it's going to happen it happens."
Captain Younis Khan said: "Sometimes people take something and it comes out in the test."
Fellow paceman Rana Naved-ul-Hasan's test for banned substances also raised questions but no action has been taken yet, another PCB official added.
No information was available on what type of drugs allegedly came up in the tests. New PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf has a tough task on his hands to put up a face-saving act.
Samples from 25 Pakistani players were sent to laboratories in Malaysia that work under the World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines, it was learnt.