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Asif was caught carrying Opium: Ex-PCB official

Agencies

Posted: Nov 19, 2008 at 0940 hrs IST
      

Karachi, November 19:: The Pakistan Cricket Board found itself in an embarrassing position after former Chief Operating Officer, Shafqat Naghmi, went public that pacer Mohammad Asif was carrying a small quantity of opium when he was detained at the Dubai airport in June.

The PCB was left fuming over disclosure made by Naghmi, who headed the three-member inquiry committee constituted to probe into the Dubai incident and decide if Asif had violated the board's anti-doping regulations.

Naghmi said the members had recommended that Asif be banned for a few matches and fined heavily as it was proven he had small quantity of opium with him when he was detained by airport authorities.

Asif was detained for 19-days after Dubai airport authorities found the substance on him but he was later released without any charges.

But Naghmi said Asif was deported and no charges were made because the quantity of the banned substance was not enough to make a case.

"But after going through the report sent to us by the Dubai authorities there is no doubt he violated the board's policy in carrying any amount of opium with him," Naghmi said.

Asif had pleaded innocent to smuggling the contraband item but is facing further problems after he was suspended by the PCB following revelations that he had tested positive in a dope test conducted during the Indian Premier League in June.

Asif and his lawyer are due to appear before the drugs inquiry tribunal of the IPL on November 29 for hearing on the case.

Naghmi said he had completed the inquiry committee's report and recommendations and was waiting for the board to ask for its submission.

But his successor, Saleem Altaf, questioned Naghmi's right to disclose findings of an inquiry that had yet to reach the board.

"I am surprised because the board has still not seen the inquiry committee's report so we don't know what is in it. And there is a code of conduct that binds former board officials from going public with such confidential details," he said.

Altaf said the inquiry had been going on since July and the report should have been submitted long time ago. Another board official also questioned Naghmi's motive of going public with such sensitive information at this stage.

"It is nothing but an attempt to make life difficult for the present board and Chairman, Ejaz Butt," the official said.

Asif had also tested positive for the banned substance Nandrolone in 2006 along with Shoaib Akhtar but escaped punishment on technical grounds.

Angry Asif calls it publicity stunt

Pakistan pacer Mohammad Asif reacted angrily to this ‘disclosure’. Asif, when contacted, said he was surprised that Naghmi had decided to make details of the inquiry public now.

"I don't think this committee has the authority to say such things now. It is the present set-up (headed by Ejaz Butt) which is responsible for everything now," he said.

Asif said he had told the committee that he had been taking some herbal medicine for his elbow problem when he was detained at the Dubai airport while returning from India.

"I think this is nothing but a publicity stunt to get attention since these officials are no longer in the cricket board. I will talk to the board chairman about this," he said.

But Nadeem Akram, another member of the committee, said the recommendations they made was for imposition of eight to 10 matches ban on Asif for possessing small quantity of opium.

"It was a very small quantity and he said he was taking some medicines for pain but our inquiry showed he had violated the board's strict anti-doping regulations," Nadeem said.

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