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The Fall Guys

October 16, 2006

Shane Warne

In February 2003, prior to the start of the cricket World Cup, Warne was sent home after he tested positive for a banned diuretic during the one-day series in Australia earlier in the year.

Warne initially claimed that he took only one of what he called a "fluid tablet" -- the prescription drug Moduretic -- on his mother's suggestion, in an attempt to improve his appearance (Warne has battled weight problems throughout his career).

He claimed ignorance of the banned nature and the tablet he took, as well as much of the drug policy of the Australian Cricket Board despite extensive briefings on the matter in the past.

Charged with using "a prohibited method to enhance performance", Warne faced a two-year ban from cricket if found guilty.

Considerable pressure was placed on the panel considering his case by Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, who, in comments described by the head of the Australian Sports Drug Agency as "highly inappropriate", poured scorn on Warne's excuse and stated that Australian sport was well-known for accusing others for cheating but was considerably less enthusiastic about prosecuting its own.

In the end, the panel found Warne guilty of breaching the ACB's drug code, and imposed a one-year ban.

It was further revealed, and confirmed by Warne in a subsequent television interview, that he had actually taken two of the pills.

Warne's testimony, and that of his mother, was described by the panel as "vague and inconsistent". The panel decided against imposing the full two-year ban because the drug would have had no performance-enhancing effect, there was no evidence that Warne used the diuretic to mask steroid use, and medical opinion stated that steroids would not have enhanced Warne's recovery from a shoulder injury he had suffered several weeks earlier, or assisted his game in any case.

A disappointed Warne initially considered appealing, but decided against it, as several people, including Pound, pointed out that the penalty could have been increased if an appeal was made.
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