LAHORE, June 20: Fast bowler Mohammad Asif, who was released from a 19-day detention at Dubai airport for allegedly carrying contraband substance in his wallet, landed here at the Lahore airport in the small hours of Friday and will now face a three-member fact-finding committee of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Chairman PCB Dr Nasim Ashraf announced the committee’s names at a brief press conference which was held after his meeting with Asif. The committee comprises PCB chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi, director cricket operations (international) Zakir Khan and director human resource Nadeem Akram. The committee will start the probe from Monday.

“I am thankful to Allah for returning home safe and sound. I am ashamed of the entire incident and apologise to the nation,” said Asif who looked reluctant to answer the many questions of the reporters.

“I have never used any wrong substance or drugs and that is why all my tests taken by the Dubai authorities were negative,” said the lanky pacer who had tested positive two years ago along with controversial Shoaib Akhtar for banned steroid, nandrolone.

“I am thankful to all who helped me in getting back home,” he said.

“A small quantity of a herbal medicine was in my wallet about which I was ignorant. I did not use that medicine,” he stated.

Later, Dr Ashraf appeared before the press but avoided answering any questions.

“I would only like to give a statement because we have no facts in writing or officially about the case,” he said. “I am quite a relieved man as Asif has returned home. Dubai law authorities dealt with the case in a very professional manner and treated Asif well.

“Rules and regulations were followed in Asif’s case and I am thankful to the Dubai authorities, the Pakistani ambassador in Dubai Ehsanullah Khan and all those who worked hard to solve the case in a professional manner,” he said.

“Asif was neither charged by the Dubai authorities nor he was deported. Instead he was repatriated,” the chairman clarified after news coming from Dubai had said that Asif was deported.

“I met Asif today and he told me that the authorities found a small substance from his wallet, which his herbal expert (hakeem) gave to him as a pain-killer,” Dr Ashraf said. “Asif also gave three random tests during the Indian Premier League, where he was also cleared.”

“The facts finding committee will gather the facts from all quarters and will prepare a report to submit it to me, suggesting the necessary action”, the chairman said. “The committee will also get in touch with the herbal medicine expert who treated Asif in Sheikhupura.”

The chairman said the inquiry report of the committee would also be sent to the International Cricket Council (ICC). “We will not conceal any facts from the nation in this connection,” he said.

However, the chairman’s claim that the PCB had no officials facts is rather surprising since it had sent Nadeem Akram to Dubai on the same day that Asif was detained.

Earlier, the PCB issued a press statement hours before the release of Asif in the wee hours of Friday. “The Dubai Attorney General has issued instructions to release Mohammad Asif and repatriate him to Pakistan,” the press release said.

“The PCB welcomes this decision and is relieved that this ordeal is over. We appreciate the professional manner in which this whole issue was dealt with by the Dubai police, prosecution department and the UAE authorities”, the press release said.

“The drug tests conducted on Mohammad Asif during the investigations in Dubai were clear and negative for any contraband substance. The fast bowler is expected to reach Pakistan on the next available flight. PCB intends to conduct an immediate inquiry into this matter, as per its policies and procedures, once the official records are received from the UAE authorities,” it further stated.

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