Pepsi's decision to discontinue its advertisement featuring Australian cricketer Shane Warne could not have come at a better time.
The company decided to stop running the advertisement from February 1, 10 days before the player was tested positive for diuretics.
Warne pulled out of the World Cup match against Pakistan today and has been asked to return home. Another test will be carried out on his blood sample in Australia. If he tests negative, he will return to play the rest of the matches in the ongoing tournament.
Diuretics are often used to reduce weight or as a masking agent for other drugs. Warne has been on a fitness regime since beginning of 2002 and has shed around 13 kg. Warne's agent in India, Worldtel, is hopeful the cricketer will make a comeback.
"This is not a performance-enhancing drug, but something he took to recover from an injury. Warne is one of the greatest cricketers in the world. Whatever has happened is very unfortunate, but I am confident he will get cleared," Samir Singh of Worldtel said.
Apart from Pepsi, Warne did not have an ongoing contract to endorse any other brand, Singh disclosed. Even the impact of the controversy on Pepsi is expected to be minimal.
"As far as the Pepsi campaign goes, Warne was not the point of focus anyway," a spokesperson from JWT, Pepsi's agency, said.
The advertisement included Nasser Hussain of England, Carl Hooper of West Indies, and Jonty Rhodes of South Africa besides Warne. Warne has also endorsed a leading fabric brand in the past.
The 33-year-old, one of Wisden's five cricketers of the century, was man-of-the-match in the 1999 World Cup final.
Last month, Warne had said he would retire from one-day internationals to concentrate on test cricket, which would also help him avoid injuries.
The Victorian has taken 491 wickets in 107 tests at an average of 25.71. He has bagged 291 wickets in one-dayers at an average 25.82.
The International Cricket Council had announced in September 2002 that dope testing would be introduced at the cricket World Cup for the first time, in accordance with South African law.It had said the list of banned drugs would be specific to cricket and would differ from the International Olympic Committee's list.