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Was it right to exonerate Shoaib, Asif?

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December 05, 2006 17:29 IST

A Pakistan Cricket Board-appointed appeals tribunal on Tuesday exonerated fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif of doping offences, and lifted the bans imposed on them.

Akhtar had been banned for two years and Asif for one year in early November, after testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone in an out-of-competition test, carried out by the PCB before the Champions Trophy.

The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, said the commission had carried out an independent assessment of the players' appeal and reached its decision without facing any pressure.

The decision means both players are now available to play in next year's World Cup.

In practical terms, it would seem that the PCB has managed to get the two players out of a tight corner. Had Akthar and Asif failed ICC drug tests during the Champions' Trophy, the ban would have come from the global body of cricket.

By banning the players on its own, the PCB then forestalled action by the ICC; and now that the Champions Trophy is over, the PCB has rehabilitated its players without the ICC having any say in it.

Interestingly, the PCB had earlier appointed a drugs inquiry tribunal to hear the players' cases and, while imposing the bans, said the players were unable to convince them that they had mistakenly taken the banned steroid.

So what do you think? Did the players get away too easy, or is this a fair decision? Was the PCB right in exonerating them? Will this send out wrong signals to other cricketers, giving them get-out-of-jail options when it comes to drug abuse?

Talk to us of the pros and cons.