Mohammad Asif, the Pakistan fast bowler, has told the IPL drugs tribunal that the presence of nandrolone in his dope test during the tournament's inaugural edition was the result of using eye drops which contained the banned substance. A hearing took place today in Mumbai, but the tribunal will meet again before reaching a decision.
Asif told the tribunal - comprising Sunil Gavaskar, Dr Ravi Bapat and lawyer Shirish Gupte - that he was unaware Keratyl, the eye drops he used to treat a painful and inflamed eye, contained nandrolone and never imagined it could disrupt his career in such a "terrible" way.
"The drops elevated his nandrolone level marginally and he played cricket with that painful eye and consequently failed a dope test in the IPL," Dr Michael Graham, a sports medicine expert told Cricinfo. Graham has been working on Asif's case from the day the Pakistan fast bowler's B sample was found positive last July, and was with his client for the hearing along with lawyer Shahid Karim.
Asif and his team arrived at 10.45am at the BCCI headquarters, and proceedings began half an hour past noon. The hearing, which lasted nearly two hours, was held amid tight security, since local political parties had issued a warning against the entry of Pakistan nationals in the city following the terrorists attacks in November last year.
Asif did not face the media contingent - eagerly waiting at the entrance - following the hearing, but Graham said his client wanted to apologise to everyone, including his country, the IPL and the media. "He had no knowledge that the drops contained a prohibited substance," he said. "He is so upset that the treatment has caused such a catastrophe to his cricketing career." Graham also hoped the tribunal would act wisely. "We pray for leniency but the ultimate decision is with the tribunal. There are intelligent individuals on it. They understand any result they give could have adverse effect on his career."
This was Asif's second appearance before the tribunal. The first was on October 11, where after lengthy discussions between the two parties the case was adjourned. November 29 was the date set for the next hearing, which got delayed following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Graham said the postponement had caused further misery for Asif. "No evidence was presented before today. It was all legal arguments because we never got an opportunity to present our case earlier as the hearing was adjourned. We had all the paper work done and we were prepared but due to the terrible tragedy of November 26 it was postponed. Unfortunately, Asif has suffered tremendous defamation in the media."
Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, said the tribunal had not arrived at a decision yet, and will convene again. Gupte, a member of the tribunal, said they will hold internal discussions soon but did not reveal a time-frame for a possible verdict.
Asif had tested positive for nandrolone during the inaugural season of the IPL in 2008 and his B sample also returned positive though there was a difference in the level of nandrolone in the two readings. Earlier this week, he was released by his franchise, the Delhi Daredevils, following a request by the fast bowler on personal grounds. Asif has been suspended from all forms of the game pending the result of the IPL inquiry by the Pakistan board, which is also investigating his detention at Dubai airport last year for possessing opium.