The Appeals Commission hearing Pakistani fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif's plea to overturn their ban for positive dope tests has deferred its verdict after failing to reach a consensus on Wednesday.
"There is definitely a divided opinion among the three members of the tribunal on what to do with the appeals of the two players. That is why the delay in announcing the decision on their pending appeals," a Pakistan Cricket Board source said.
Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim heads the appellate tribunal, which also includes former Test player Hasib Ahsan and Danish Zaheer, who heads the Pakistan Sports Medicine Association.
The players went with their appeals to the tribunal after a drugs inquiry tribunal found them guilty of taking banned substances and banned Shoaib for two years and Asif for one year. The verdict came after the two bowlers were called back from the Champions Trophy in India last month after testing positive in tests conducted by the Pakistan Cricket Board independently.
"There is a feeling that the bans are too harsh and should be removed because in the first place the PCB was not bound to have the tests by the International Cricket Council under the anti-doping regulations," the source said. "The feeling is that Pakistan still needs these two players and the drugs inquiry tribunal acted harshly without taking relevant facts into consideration like the circumstances in which the tests were held by the PCB and that the fact that the traces of the banned substance nandrolone can even be found in athletes who over-train.
"The main argument in favour of removing the bans is that Pakistan is not a direct signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency regulations and the bans only apply on players who test positive in competitions of the ICC."
But the source well aware of the developments in the doping case said the other argument was that there was no doubt the players had tested positive and it would paint a very poor image of Pakistan if their bans were lifted.
"The suggestion after hearing the arguments of the player's lawyers is that the bans be reduced and some heavy fines be imposed on them to ensure everyone is happy.
"But the problem is that Ebrahim is a no nonsense man and goes by the law and book. The other problem is the board itself is not interested in Shoaib's future but wants Asif to be available as soon as possible for selection."