K.P. Mohan

NEW DELHI: The International Cricket Council (ICC) says it had been notified about the IPL tribunal decision to ban Pakistani Mohammad Asif from “participating in the sport of cricket for a period of one year after finding the player guilty of a doping violation.”

The ICC further says, in a release, “the ICC has yet to consider the written reasons for the decision in the matter and will make no further comment at this stage other than to confirm its expectation that all Member Boards will adopt the ban and as such the player will not be available for official cricket until the ban has been completed.”

The question is, has the IPL got the authority to ban a player from the sport for any length of time?

The ICC anti-doping code, relevant to the year 2008, when the Asif doping offence occurred, does not extend to anything other than ICC events. Even if one were to take into account the clause relating to “mutual enforcement and assistance”, the ICC would be duty bound to enforce only a member unit’s regulations and not that of a tournament.

IPL rule

Thus, it would seem the IPL rules alone could be applied in the case of Asif. These rules, though a little vague, do give the impression that they are solely concerned with IPL and nothing more.

The IPL rule regarding ‘status during ineligibility” (9.9) says: “No cricketer who has been declared ineligible may, during the period of ineligibility, participate in any capacity in any match during the ineligibility period. This would preclude, but not be limited to: attending any practice or training session with any team or any member of a team; b) acting as a coach of any team or as an official of any team or an official in respect of the League; c) receiving payment from IPL, or any Franchisee in respect of his personal services; d) using facilities or equipment owned or controlled by IPL and / or e) holding any official position with IPL or any Franchisee.”

In addition, financial support or other sports-related benefits received by such a cricketer “will be withheld by IPL and / or cricketer’s Franchisee.”

The above rules clearly give the impression that the rules are in relation to the IPL and not the sport as whole.

Awaits explanations

The ICC, as well the media and the public, would be eagerly awaiting the explanations given by the IPL drugs tribunal in reducing Asif’s sanction to one year while admitting, “Mohammad Asif was found guilty by the IPL Drug Tribunal in as much as a prohibited substance namely nandrolone was found in the urine sample extracted from the player during the support period and the match played on May 30th 2008 between the Delhi Daredevils and the Rajasthan Royals at Mumbai.”

All steroid violations attract a two-year suspension. A suspension period can only be reduced if the competitor pleads “exceptional circumstances” and proves that he could not have had any control over the banned substance entering his body.

The two crucial conditions are, the player has to plead “exceptional circumstances” and the escape route is not shown to him by any hearing panel, and he has to prove that he was not negligent in any manner in allowing a banned substance to get into his bodily fluids.

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