Mohammad Shahzad, the wicketkeeper-batsman from Afghanistan, has been suspended from all cricket for a period of 12 months – backdated to January 17, 2017 – after pleading guilty to breaching the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Doping Code.
Making the announcement on Thursday (December 7), the ICC said that they were satisfied Shahzad had taken the prohibited substance Clenbuterol inadvertently, it being part of Hydroxycut – a weight-loss product the Afghanistan star had been taking.
However, given the zero-tolerance approach to doping that the ICC have adopted and Shahzad admitting he had failed to exercise the high levels of personal responsibility required of an international cricketer, the ban came into effect.
Shahzad, 29, will be eligible to play cricket from January 18, 2018, which means his ban will run out in a little over a month from now.
Shahzad had tested positive for the prohibited substance that comes under the category of anabolic agents, on January 17 this year at an out-of-competition test conducted at the ICC Academy in Dubai. His sample was analysed at the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City.
“Today’s announcement reinforces the ICC’s zero-tolerance approach to doping, and reminds all international cricketers that they remain personally responsible for ensuring that anything they eat, drink or put into their bodies does not result in an anti-doping rule violation,” said Geoff Allardice, the ICC General Manager – Cricket.
“It further serves as a reminder to all international cricketers of the dangers and risks associated with taking supplements. Before thinking about taking a supplement, cricketers should weigh up the risks and dangers of doing so and should fully research the supplement in question so they can make an informed decision.”
Curiously enough, though the start of Shahzad’s ban has been backdated to January 17, 2017, he played first-class matches, One-Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals till as late as March this year, and took part in a T20 tournament in Afghanistan in April.
In February 2017, he played in all five ODIs that Afghanistan took part away in Zimbabwe, with the visiting side winning 3-2. Shahzad made 121 runs at an average of 24.20 and a strike-rate of 75.62, with one half-century.
In March 2017, he was part of the Afghanistan team that beat Ireland 3-2 in a five-ODI series in Greater Noida, with the last game on March 24. He played all five matches there too, aggregating 131 runs with one half-century. Also in March, he played all three T20Is against Ireland before the ODIs, with Afghanistan winning 3-0. Shahzad made 123 runs at 41.00, with a strike-rate of 139.77, and one half-century.
Finally, at the same venue, Afghanistan beat Ireland in an Intercontinental Cup match that began on March 28 in which Shahzad made 85 in Afghanistan’s only innings.
The ICC sent a formal notice of charge to Shahzad only on April 13, 2017 after the lab tests had determined that the cricketer had a case to answer. He was provisionally suspended with immediate effect from April 26, 2017 – after which he hasn’t played any representative cricket.
Since the ICC determined there was “no intent to cheat or enhance performance” on Shahzad’s part, Article 10.4 came into effect, which provides that if a player establishes that s/he bears no fault or negligence for the violation in question, the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility will be terminated.
Article 10.5 further provides that where a player establishes that s/he bears no significant fault or negligence for the presence of prohibited substances in his system, the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility can be reduced.