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Now, dope-trial fixing
Ashraf (top), Shoaib

Islamabad, Dec. 9: Pakistan cricket’s doping scandal turned murkier today with board chief Nasim Ashraf accused of unsuccessfully trying to influence the commission that found Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif guilty.

But few in cricketing circles were willing to discuss the allegation that hangs a cloud over the way an appeals panel later cleared the key bowlers and lifted their bans months before the World Cup.

“Incontrovertible evidence, in the form of a letter signed by PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf, shows that the PCB attempted to influence the judgment of the anti-doping commission,” newspaper The Nation reported, publishing a copy of the letter.

It quoted barrister Shahid Hamid – head of the panel that included former captain Intikhab Alam and Dr Waqar Ahmad — as saying he found the letter “insulting, out of order and tantamount to influencing the judgment of the commission.”

Hamid confirmed the report, saying: “I took it as an interference… (later) Ashraf called me up and apologised.”

The daily concluded that Ashraf later got the appeals committee to lift the bans “probably on patriotic grounds”, though the panel’s head, F.G. Ebrahim, denied this today.

Patriotism seemed to colour former Test captains’ reactions, too. “We should avoid new controversies and focus on preparing the team for the World Cup,” Zaheer Abbas said. Javed Miandad’s take was, “It’s better not to speak on unnecessary controversies.”

Ashraf has denied pressuring Hamid’s panel.

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