Pakistan has recalled fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif from the Champions Trophy after they tested positive for banned substances, officials said yesterday.
In the latest of a series controversies to hit Pakistan, Akhtar and Asif failed internal Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) drug tests carried out at the end of September, coach Bob Woolmer said.
"What was my initial reaction? Disappointment," Woolmer told a televised press conference in Jaipur, India, where Pakistan face Sri Lanka in their opening Champions Trophy match on Tuesday.
"We asked the (PCB) medical panel to give the players drug tests which they did at the end of September, so I take responsibility for that certainly," the English-born coach added.
"I have never come across anything like this in my life. ... The timing is not great, but if it's going to happen it happens," Woolmer said.
Captain Younis Khan added: "Sometimes people take something and it comes out in the test."
Fellow paceman Rana Naved-ul-Hasan's test for banned substances also raised questions but no action has been taken yet, another PCB official added.
No information was available on what type of drugs allegedly came up in the tests.
New PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf was due to give an official announcement at a press conference here at 3pm following an urgent board meeting.
Pakistan is lining up fast bowlers Mohammad Sami and Shahid Nazir and all-rounder Yasir Arafat to fly out to India as soon as possible, a board official said on condition of anonymity.
"We are also considering forming a drugs tribunal to specifically deal with the matter and to decide what penalties can be imposed," the official said.
Samples from 25 Pakistani players were sent to laboratories in Malaysia which work under the World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines, the official added.
The tests rob Pakistan of two key elements of its strike force a day ahead of the team's first match in the Champions Trophy, and follow two months of controversy swirling around the squad.
The chaos started in the Fourth Test against England at the Oval in August, when captain Inzamam-ul Haq refused to take his team back on the field after it was accused of ball-tampering.
Inzamam was cleared of that charge but was still handed a four-match ban for bringing the game into disrepute.
His replacement Younis Khan earlier this month refused to lead the side for the Champions Trophy, saying he did not want to be a "dummy" captain.