Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mohammad Asif detained in Dubai-opium possession

Mohammad Asif's name is on a list of people who cannot enter the UAE

Mohammad Asif has been barred from entering the UAE after being deported from Dubai last year for possession of an opium substance weighing 0.24 grams.
PCB officials of the time had revealed the nature of the substance, but court and police documents now finally confirm the details. Asif was caught with the substance in his wallet at Dubai airport on June 1, 2008 when travelling back to Pakistan after competing in the Indian Premier League. He was detained for 19 days before being released.

The documents also shed light on the conclusion of the case, revealing that the public prosecutor advocated not filing criminal charges based on several factors: "that the accused was arrested at Dubai airport before being able to actually enter the state, the trifle amount of the drug, the serious consequence of putting him on trial and enforcing a judgment against him, and for the sake of avoiding pressures on courts and prisons."

Asif's urine sample taken at the airport was negative, however, putting to rest much speculation that Asif was intoxicated at the airport. But during an interrogation with two investigators, Asif said he did not know of the nature of the substance, thinking it to be a herbal remedy and said he used it to boost his blood pressure and energy levels.

"I started using it once every year, one small piece each time when necessary," the interview records Asif as saying.

Asked if he knew what the substance was, Asif replied: "A herbal dark substance found with me which I use for energy ... to reduce blood pressure and gain energy. I have obtained it from one of the public curers in Pakistan."

Asif acknowledged that he last used the substance in Pakistan four months before the case. The sample was tested in a laboratory in Dubai and it was confirmed that the substance Asif carried in his wallet was 0.24 grams of opium.

"I did not intend to bring it to the country and I don't know whether it is a narcotic drug or otherwise and I don't know whether it is prohibited in the UAE or not," Asif told the investigators.

Though Asif is currently suspended from all cricket by the PCB - he is facing a separate inquiry for a positive steroid test at the IPL - there are repercussions for his future appearances for Pakistan in the prosecutor's order against him.

The attorney general deported Asif and had his name put on a list of prohibited names who cannot enter the UAE. "The concerned authorities in the CID should be notified to take all the necessary actions to deport the accused from the state and include his name in the list of persons prohibited from entering the state once again," the order reads.

Given that many international teams have refused to tour Pakistan in recent years because of the instability in the country and the fact that the UAE is a very viable and feasible neutral option - one that has been used - the order effectively means Asif will not be able to play for Pakistan there.

Though the PCB says they do not have the relevant documents of the case, the feeling within the board is that this case at least will not be pursued actively internally. Officials believe that if the IPL inquiry finds Asif guilty and bans him from cricket, that may be punishment enough. That case is currently awaiting another hearing, due to be held on January 24 in London, but which has now been shifted back to India.

In 2006, Asif and Shoaib Akhtar were pulled out of the Champions Trophy in India after both tested positive for nandrolone during internal PCB testing.

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