Colombo: Upul Tharanga, the Sri Lankan opener, has been handed a three-month suspension from all cricket and cricket-related activities by the ICC for failing a drugs test during the 2011 World Cup. The ICC accepted the offence was not deliberate and the suspension was back-dated to begin on May 9 2011, which means Tharanga will be eligible for selection from August 9.
"I apologise to the fans and followers of Sri Lanka cricket for inadvertently committing an offence," Tharanga said after the verdict was announced. "I hope my fellow sportsmen will learn from my experience and be more vigilant when taking medical treatment, so that their careers do not suffer in the way that mine has."
Tharanga had provided a urine sample as part of the ICC's random in-competition testing programme after the World Cup semi-final between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Colombo on March 29. His sample was tested by a WADA accredited laboratory and found to contain Prednisone and Prednisolone, which are 'Specified Substances' under WADA's prohibited list and are banned from being used in-competition "when administered by oral, intravenous intramuscular or rectal routes."
According to an ICC release, the anti-doping tribunal accepted Tharanga's submission that he had ingested the substances by drinking a herbal remedy given to him to ease discomfort caused by a long-standing shoulder injury. "It also found that Tharanga had no intention to enhance his sporting performance or to mask the use of another performance enhancing substance, but that he had failed to satisfy the high levels of personal responsibility implicit upon him as an international cricketer subject to anti-doping rules.
"Tharanga pleaded guilty to the offence at an early stage in the proceedings and, as mandated under the ICC Code, the tribunal disqualified the rankings points he earned from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011."
"We recognise that Upul has not been found guilty of deliberately cheating, but the ICC maintains its zero-tolerance approach towards doping for the benefit of all its stakeholders," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said. "Cases like this serve as a reminder to all players that they must take great care and personal responsibility at all times for the substances that they consume."
Tharanga has the right to appeal against the tribunal's decision and must do so within 21 days of receiving the written decision.