'Rawalpindi Express' seems to have an uncanny knack of getting into trouble every once in a while.
The latest is that the Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar was caught carrying a large number of empty syringes while emplaning for Mumbai to participate in the Indian Premier League tournament.
But his personal doctor and trainer, Dr Tauseef Razzak has stoutly denied claims made by the Pakistan daily Nation on the syringes issue.
Razzak said on Sunday that the report was incorrect and no such incident had happened. "The talk about Shoaib telling the customs officials that he needed the syringes to inject insulin as he was a diabetic is not true. He has asthma problems and uses a inhaler for which he has got permission of the International Cricket Council (ICC)," Razzak said.
The report came two days before the officials of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) arrived in India to carry out random dope tests on the players appearing in the IPL.
The IPL is an event recognised by the ICC but its doping policy does not apply in the tournament, although the organisers have taken the initiative of having random dope tests conducted by WADA experts.
Razzak said the impression that Shoaib was taking any performance enhancing drugs or medicines was rubbish. "All such insinuations are terrible. Shoaib has a breathing problem for which he uses an inhaler. He has had problems with his knee which is strapped. That's all. Rest he is working hard to give his best in the IPL," Razzak said.
"I have spoken to Shoaib and he said the passenger behind him at the customs check-up had syringes in his luggage and the media had linked that with him," he claimed.
He also said that Shoaib was considering taking legal action against the daily. Razzak added that the ICC had given Shoaib permission to use the inhaler since the 2003 World Cup.
Meanwhile, the Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday threatened to take "all actions including legal" against the Pakistan daily for its report that fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar was questioned at the Karachi airport for allegedly carrying a large number of syringes.
"We are contemplating all action including legal against the paper," Knight Riders manager Jay Bhattacharjee told reporters.
Describing the report as a deliberate attempt to malign Shoaib, Bhattacharya said: "We are talking to lawyers. We want to see whether we can make out a case, then we will proceed."
"Both Shoaib and the Kolkata Knight Riders are extremely upset over the clear attempt to slander him," he said.
The manager also pointed out three discrepancies in the report. "Firstly, Shoaib travelled to India from Lahore and not Karachi. Secondly, he travelled to Kolkata via Delhi, not Mumbai. And thirdly, he did not travel with any hand baggage, therefore obviously there were no syringes," he said.
Bhattacharya, however, refused to give the media any access to Shoaib on the matter. "I don't even want Shoaib to open his mouth on the issue," he said.
Shoaib Akhtar had tested positive for a banned substance, nandrolone in 2006 with team-mate Mohammad Asif.