Pakistani cricketer Asif arrested in Dubai with drugs (Third Lead)

June 3rd, 2008 - 6:15 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Shoaib Akhtar
By Aroonim Bhuyan and Muhammad Najeeb
Dubai/Islamabad, June 3 (IANS) Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Asif was sent to police custody in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Tuesday on charges of possessing drugs, two days after he was caught at the Dubai airport while flying home following the Indian Premier League (IPL). If found guilty, Asif faces a minimum four-year jail sentence. The UAE, along with other Gulf countries, has a zero tolerance policy for drugs possession.

The pacer, earlier banned for a year for drug use, could be banned for life if the charges are proved.

The cricketer was detained by customs authorities at the airport here Sunday while he was on his way to Lahore from Mumbai via Dubai.

He was returning home after playing for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL semi-final against Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai Friday.

“The person concerned has been handed over to the drugs unit of the Dubai police,” an airport customs official told IANS earlier Tuesday.

Dubai police authorities sent his blood and urine samples for laboratory tests, it was learnt.

Pakistan’s Geo TV, quoting Pakistan cricket sources, reported that Asif had confessed to possessing narcotic substance.

Asif is a contracted player of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Confirming his arrest, PCB’s chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi told IANS from Lahore: “We are in touch with the authorities in the UAE through our embassy.”

Media reports in Pakistan said Asif was arrested after being trapped by a sniffer dog in the transit lounge of the Dubai airport.

One PCB official told IANS on condition of anonymity that the cricketer appeared to be in possession of cigarettes filled with hashish.

Pakistan’s foreign office said it was in touch with the authorities in Dubai.

“We came to know about the incident Sunday night. Since then we’re working with the Pakistan embassy in the UAE to know the facts,” a ministry official added.

Asif was banned for a year and his team-mate Shoaib Akhtar for two years after they tested positive for the steroid Nandrolone in October 2006. The ban was removed on appeal two months later.

The PCB official said Asif, if found guilty this time, could face a life ban. “Certainly we will proceed against him if he is guilty and he could be banned for life.”

According to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules, an athlete faces a life ban if he or she is found positive a second time. Asif was acquitted the first time.

IPL sources also said Asif might be banned from future editions of the tournament if he was found guilty.

Various players were tested for dope during the IPL tournament that ended Sunday.

IPL officials were trying to ascertain if Asif was one of those tested last week. If so, they would submit the sample for re-analysis.

Contacted by IANS, International Cricket Council (ICC) officials in Dubai refused to comment on the issue.

“This is purely an internal matter of the PCB and is not related to any ICC event. The ICC cannot comment on this,” an official said.

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