Tuesday, October 17, 2006

SPORT: More Pakistan cricketing controversy

As if it wasn’t bad enough being accused of cheating by umpires. As if it couldn’t get worse with the team forfeiting a match after being in a winning position. Now two top clergy of Pakistan’s real religion have been caught taking steroids.

Pakistani cricket is going from bad to worse. At the same time, it is making history. Yesterday two of its leading fast bowlers (including the world’s fastest bowler Shoaib Akhtar) have been implicated in what surely must be cricket’s worst drugs scandal. Both Akhtar and his fellow pace bowler Mohammad Asif have been sent home from the Champions Trophy in India after testing positive to anabolic steroids.

The entire nation of Pakistan has ground to a virtual halt. The fact that these two key players were caught in India, an old rival in both cricket and politics, makes matters even worse. But Shaib Akhtar’s doctor has defended the pace bowler, claiming that Akhtar may have taken the drugs accidentally. Yep, it’s easy getting steroids confused for tandoori chicken.

Pakistani newspapers are naturally giving the issue plenty of courage. Pakistani cricketing officials have only recently introduced an anti-doping policy, and for two prominent players to be caught so soon surely must raise questions on how many top Pakistani fast bowlers could have been caught before the policy came into place.

This is only the 3rd time players have been caught using steroids. The previous two players included Shane Warne and West Australian bowler Duncan Spencer. The difference in this case is that Aussies don’t follow cricket with the fanaticism of Pakistanis.

Cricketers are almost worshipped in the Indian sub-Continent. And that higher they get, the harder they fall. Pakistanis are known to be particularly vicious with losing captains and players out of form.

Words © 2006 Irfan Yusuf

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