I really should change the title of my previous post, Brett Lee was caught red-handed (picking his nose), whereas our good friend Shoaib Akhtar has been busted taking banned substances. Namely, an anabolic steroid named nandrolone.
This performance enhancing concoction may be new to cricket, but I'm sure you would have heard of the myriad of other high-profile names banned for using the substance (remember sprinter Ben Johnson). What's more, Shoaib's opening bowling partner, Mohammad Asif, has also tested positive for the same substance.
We must be careful now, since it has only been "alleged" that these two are drug cheats. However, after reading and watching all of Shoaib Akhtar's antics on and off the cricket pitch over the last decade and a bit, are you really surprised that he has been caught up in a mess of this nature? Akhtar goes out of his way to attract attention for himself. Flashy cars, bright lights, A-list Bollywood parties, a badly put on American accent when deemed appropriate, feigned injuries, dodgy action, bust-ups with the captain - the list is endless. For mine, this latest revelation seems like a natural progression.
What is more amusing are his protests of innocence. To provide you an invaluable and hilarious insight on how this man's mind works, he writes
"The President of Pakistan has asked me not to comment in any detail at this stage and I want to respect his wishes, so I will keep my message short."Ya, that and John Howard rang me to inform me that he has chose me as his successor over Peter Costello. Please. As X's motto goes, if you are going to lie, at least make it believable. Politicians will always be politicians. President Mushy would not want to touch Shoaib Akhtar with a ten foot pole at present, no matter how many copies of his book Akthar was prepared buy.
What was Shoiab Akhtar trying to achieve by bringing President Musharraf into this, anyway? If it was credibility he was after, surely there are other more "creditable" people in Pakistan. Then again, maybe he did not want sully their reputations, so President Mushy turned out to be a good fit. Who knows? One would think, he could have come up with a decent excuse at least, eg. my Mom said I needed to look fatter for the Champions Trophy so I took the pills she gave me.
I am also very suspicious of exactly how Mohammad Asif became embroiled in this mess. Here's an impressionable young kid who oozes talent and class, he is partnered with the newly "reformed" Akthar (remember those stories about the new Shoaib after the last England tour to Pakistan?) and by all accounts they get on like a house on fire. Then, in less than a year both of them manage to return positive drug tests. Maybe its just my suspicious mind, but this does not seem like a coincidence to me.
I am willing to believe that this may just be a case of wrong medicine at the wrong time. However, having witnessed Shoaib Akhtar's immature, self-obsessed and narcissistic nature through the media over the years (including his latest explanation), I am equally willing to believe that this was a deliberate attempt to cheat his body and the game. It is up to Akhtar and Asif to come clean and tell us the real truth, no matter how bitter it may taste.
PS. I wonder what Shane Warne thinks of this shamozzle. Every case before his involved only recreational drugs (not that I condone them either). It was only thanks to his Mummy that the cricketing world sat up and acknowledged that it was not immune to drugs and their taking. 1 year, two years or life, Warney?
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