Mohammad Asif, the Pakistani pacer, has been suspended with immediate effect from all competition until an inquiry is completed by India, where he tested positive for a banned substance.
'We have suspended Asif from all cricket - neither can he be involved in any cricket-related activity nor can he hold any office relating to cricket,' the Pakistan Cricke Board (PCB)'s chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi told a news conference Tuesday.
The Indian Premier League on Monday named Asif as the player who tested positive during the Twenty20 competition held from April to June.
Asif has since been dropped from the Champion Trophy probables squad. He is already under investigation after being detained at the Dubai International Airport for 19 days under suspicion of carrying drugs last month on his way back from the IPL tournament.
"The PCB will offer all the assistance to the IPL drugs tribunal and implement its findings. We may even attend the inquiry proceedings," Naghmi added.
A PCB press release also said that a doping test would be performed on all 30 players short-listed for the Champion Trophy tournament.
The release said any player failing the test or failing to give samples for the test shall become ineligible for selection and will also face disciplinary proceeding under PCB's Anti Doping Policy.
The 26-year-old Asif is considered a most promising player, and hence the Board is generally keen to help him out, but he is tying himself in knots all the time.
It had gone all out to bale him out during the Dubai episode, but seems to be leaving him to his fate this time.
This is the second time in two years that Asif has tested positive, both occasions relating to the ICC Champions Trophy. In the last Champions Trophy held in India in Oct 2006, Asif and fellow pacer Shoaib Akhtar were tested positive for banned substance nandrolone.
And now once again Asif has tested positive when the Champions Trophy-2008 is scheduled to be held in Pakistan in September.
Dr Meesaq Rizvi, a medical expert on doping, told Dawn newspaper that Asif could face a minimum of two year suspension and a maximum of life ban.
"His first positive dope test in 2006 will not really count since the case did not come under WADA's jurisdiction at that time. The world anti-doping body will consider it this as Asif's first offence but the PCB is also in a position to impose life ban on the bowler," he said.
Meantime Asif's lawyer Shahid Karim said, "I have discussed the case with Mohammad Asif today and we have decided to exercise the option of asking for his sample 'B' to be also tested."
"Generally the odds may be against us but I think a few legal aspects of this case are in our favour and we can prove Asif's innocence," Karim said.
Without elaborating what the legal aspects were, Karim said they were bright chances that there could have been technical and other errors while Asif's samples were collected during the IPL and he was asked to fill in the prescribed form supplied by the people who took the tests.
Karim said the most positive aspect of the case was that when he met Asif, his morale was high and he was confident of being cleared of the positive dope test.
"He has kept on pleading his innocence and I believe he might be the victim of some error," the lawyer said.
He pointed out that Asif had given dope tests conducted by the Board in recent months and was cleared. "So how can he test positive so soon. Hopefully we will clear the issue with the passage of time."