The Pakistan Cricket Board's anti-doping commission took a strict stance against Shoaib Akhtar and slapped the enigmatic pacer a two-year ban, but went soft on Mohammad Asif because of the latter's poor command of English.
The three-man tribunal, in its much-anticipated report, observed that it was not clear whether Asif, who was handed a one-year ban, was present at any lecture or session on Anti-Doping Regulations or the list of prohibited substances.
There were also doubts whether he was even handed the WADA 2006 list of prohibited substances and WADA Athlete Guide prior to the team's departure for the England tour in August 2006.
''We have ourselves noticed during the hearings that Mohammad Asif's command of English is limited and we are clear that he could not possibly have understood the WADA publications without someone helping him to understand their contents. No such guidance or counselling was provided. He has stated before us that he is unable to explain why his urine sample has tested positive for the nandrolone metabolite,'' the commission, comprising eminent barrister Shahid Hamid, former Pakistan captain and caoch Intikhab Alam and medical expert Dr Waqar Ahmed, observed.
''He was amongst those who gave his sample on the very first date of sample taking and did not try and delay the sample taking," it said.
The commission sympathized with Asif and blamed the fiasco mostly on his ignorance and humble background.
''When he was in UK in June 2006 along with the Pakistan team he was given an injection for his elbow injury which did not work. Thereafter, he received two more injections during his stay there. After his return, he had been using nutritional supplements viz Promax-50. This was in the knowledge of the Team Physiotherapist Mr Darryn Lifson, who was also present when he was given the three injections in UK.
''He lived in a village and was unaware of the effects of the injections and nutritional supplements that he had taken,'' it argued.
The same commission, however, sounded harsh while handing out the ban order on Akhtar, rubbishing the pacer's version that he could not suspect that he had been using prohibited substances.
The commission quoted from Shoaib's written submission before the three-member body to point to his eventful past, plagued by injury and controversy.
''Occasional smoker and a past history of infrequent alcohol consumption, with a penchant for western lifestyle, sexually active Shoaib has an unremarkable medical history. There is history of bronchial asthma (atopy). However his surgical/trauma history is quite remarkable,'' it read.
The commission also pointed out that Shoaib's personal physician Dr Touseef Razzaq was allowed to go with him on foreign tours and, it felt, before consuming anything, ''He could and should have consulted his doctors. In fact, we find it difficult to believe that he did not do so.
''In the totality of the circumstances, we are not convinced that there was no fault or negligence on the part of Shoaib Akhtar or even no significant fault or negligence,'' it said.
The commission also rubbished Shoaib's claim that high protein intake over the years had caused endogenous production of 19-Norandrosterone in his system, well above the prescribed limit.
''The medical experts who have appeared before us have stated categorically that levels of this metabolite as high as the level found in Shoaib Akhtar's urine sample viz 14.06 ng/ml are not possible to be produced endogenously there is a urine test known as GC-C-IRMS which can determine whether or not the given levels of the metabolite have been produced endogenously or otherwise. We offered this test to Shoaib Akhtar but he declined to take the same,'' they said.
Meanwhile, though the ICC may have patted the PCB for its strict handling of the doping fiasco, the commission rapped it for not doing enough to sensitize its cricketers about the menace.
Alleging that the PCB officials appearing before the tribunal washed their hands off the episode, the commission said, ''We are not entirely satisfied with the manner in which PCB has advised and cautioned its players with regard to prohibited substances, the adverse effects of their use and the Anti Doping Regulations.
''We have found much passing of the buck between the various PCB officials who have appeared before us. We are firmly of the view that PCB needs to have a qualified and experienced sports doctor whenever the team is on tour abroad.
''We are also of the view that periodic guidance should be provided to the players about their diet, nutritional supplements, prohibited substances and the Anti-Doping Regulations and there should be clear cut responsibility as to who is to perform these various tasks and when," it added.