Dope hearing awaits Mohammad Asif despite IPL release

Mohammad Asif, who opted out of the Indian Premier League at his own request, must still be cleared of doping charges if he wants to play for Pakistan again, an official said on Tuesday.

The controversial fast bowler, 26, was released from his $650,000 a-year IPL contract by Delhi Daredevils late on Monday after serving just one year of his three-year deal in the Twenty20 tournament.

Asif is due to appear before an IPL drugs tribunal in Mumbai on Saturday after testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone during the tournament’s opening season last April-May.

“We have released him, but I suppose Asif still needs to have his name cleared if he wants to play official cricket,” Delhi Daredevils chief operating officer Amrit Mathur said.

Asif was detained at Dubai airport for 19 days last June after 0.24 grams of opium were found in his wallet. After being deported to Pakistan, he was told he had also failed an IPL test.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has suspended Asif indefinitely from playing official cricket pending the IPL hearing.

The talented seamer has taken 51 wickets in 11 Tests, 36 wickets in 31 One-dayers and 12 wickets in nine Twenty20 internationals since his debut in 2005.

Asif said in a written statement released by the Delhi Daredevils that he voluntarily opted out of his IPL contract to concentrate on playing for Pakistan again.

“Due to personal reasons, I am having to take this step, and definitely it has not been easy as I still have a contract valid for another two seasons, with lucrative financial benefits,” Asif said.

“I am going through a tremendous amount of pressure. My only purpose and wish is to play for my nation Pakistan again, and for that I need to disengage from any other cricket engagements.”

The second edition of the lucrative eight-team, franchise-based IPL tournament, featuring many of the world’s top cricketers, is to be held across India in April-May.

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