Shoaib likely to return after clearing dope test

July 30th, 2008 - 7:09 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Shoaib Akhtar

Karachi, July 30 (IANS) Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar overcame yet another hurdle on his way to a much-anticipated international return in this September’s Champions Trophy Wednesday when he cleared a dope test alongside two dozen compatriots. A senior Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official said that all the 25 cricketers tested for banned substances cleared the dope tests.

The results of the dope tests which were carried out in a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-accredited laboratory in Malaysia must have come as a big relief for Pakistan’s cricket community which was stunned earlier this month when Mohammad Asif failed a dope test conducted during the Indian Premier League (IPL).

“Thankfully, all the 25 players have cleared the dope tests,” said Shafqat Naghmi, PCB’s chief operating officer.

Four players in Pakistan’s 30-man preliminary squad for the Champions Trophy including senior batsman Younis Khan missed the dope tests.

Younis was in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah at the time the tests were carried out in Lahore while three other players including all-rounder Yasir Arafat and middle-order batter Bazid Khan could not give the tests as they are currently playing professional cricket in England.

All the players will have to clear dope tests before the announcement of the 15-man Pakistan squad for the Champions Trophy on August 12, said Naghmi.

It is the first time that Shoaib has undertaken dope tests since the 2007 World Cup which he missed due to injury problems. The dope-tainted pacer has been a subject of much speculation since testing positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone during the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy in India along with Asif.

Shoaib, 32, is working hard to get back in shape in time for the Champions Trophy. He has not played international cricket since featuring in the fourth one-day against India in Gwalior last November.

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