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Cricket Legend Warne Tests Positive for Banned Substances - 2003-02-11

Australia's legendary cricket player Shane Warne has been sent home from the Cricket World Cup in South Africa, after testing positive for banned substances. Warne now faces an inquiry in his home country.

Shane Warne tested positive for two different diuretics - drugs which are used to treat high blood pressure and fluid retention, and to help with weight loss.

But some athletes also use diuretics to disguise the presence of other substances, such as banned performance-enhancing drugs. For that reason, diuretics are outlawed by most sports governing bodies, including the International Cricket Council.

In a statement to reporters, Warne said he took one diuretic tablet last month for medical reasons. But he expressed shock that he showed positive for a banned substance in routine tests by the Australian Sports Drug Agency.

"I was shocked and absolutely devastated to be informed by ASDA yesterday that a test sample, which was collected in Australia on the 22nd of January, indicated the presence of a prohibited substance," he said. "I am shocked because I do not take performance-enhancing drugs, never, and do not condone them in any way shape or form. And my previous tests have always come back negative and so will any future ones."

Warne took the diuretic after a serious shoulder injury in December. At the time, both Australian and international sports commentators expressed surprise at how fast his injury healed.

The chief executive of Australia's Cricket Board, James Sutherland, said that his star player has been cooperative.

"We commend Shane for his open and cooperative approach, including coming forward as soon as the information was raised with him, rather than following the normal process of waiting for ASDA to conduct and finalize further tests," he said.

Warne is considered the world's best spin bowler with an action that even the best and most experienced batsmen find difficult to read. He is a hero to the cricket-mad Australian public.

His departure from the Cricket World Cup was announced just as his team was about to play its first match in the tournament against the formidable Pakistan team.

Before the match, Australian captain Ricky Ponting said the players are trying to put the issue out of their minds.

"It has been a little disappointing I suppose for it to happen they way it has," he said. "We have just got to get on with things now, we have got a big game of cricket today, all the guys are aware of that. We have got that situation completely out of our minds and are focussing on a big performance today."

Warne is now heading back to Australia where he will face a hearing of the Australian cricket board's anti-doping committee.