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This picture taken on October 13, 2006, shows Pakistani field hockey player Tariq Aziz (C) watched by his teammates as he hits a ball during a practice session in Islamabad. Pakistan hockey forward Tariq Aziz faces a six month to one year ban after a doping test proved he had used a banned drug which he said he took to heal a back problem, an official said. -Photo by AFP

KARACHI Pakistan hockey forward Tariq Aziz faces a ban of six to 12 months after a doping test showed he had traces of cannabis in his system, an official said on Tuesday.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) dropped 28-year-old Aziz from a European tour planned for last month.

Tests proved negative but traces of Carboxy-THC — a by-product of cannabis — were still found in his sample.

The PHF executive board 'will now decide about the punishment as we have zero tolerance on doping,' federation secretary Asif Bajwa said.

The board's standard ban for a first-time doping offence is six months to one year.

Bajwa said, however, that the player's use of the drug was likely within international legal limits laid down by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

'As per the WADA rules the threshold limit for the Carboxy-THC is 15 nanograms per millilitre, but Aziz did not cross that limit and that's why he doesn't come under WADA punishment,' he said.

Last month, team coach Shahid Ali Khan said Aziz had taken an unspecified banned substance because he was 'really desperate' to return to the side after his back trouble.

Aziz has a history of disciplinary problems. He was banned for six months by the PHF after he received a red card for hitting an Australian player with his hockey stick during the final of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

That was his second offence in the tournament, having already received a red card for hitting a South African player during the group phase of the Games.

Pakistan, three time Olympic and four time world champions, have failed to find their old form in recent years. The team eventually had to cancel the European tour after they failed to acquire visas for players.

They are due to play the qualifying rounds of next year's World Cup to be held in the Indian capital New Delhi.

Pakistan feature in the qualifying round in Lille, France from October 31, one of three rounds to chose the last three teams for the 12-team World Cup.