Disgraced Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Asif on Wednesday apologized for his role in a 2010 spot-fixing scandal, admitting his guilt for the first time and accepting a five-year ban.
The 30-year-old is the last of three players to make a confession, after teammates Salman Butt and Mohammad Aamer admitted their part and presented themselves for rehabilitation.
Asif, pace partner Aamer and then-captain Butt were banned for contriving to bowl deliberate no-balls in return for money during the Lord’s Test against England in 2010.
A year later an anti-corruption tribunal of the International Cricket Council (ICC) banned Butt for 10 years, with five suspended, Asif for seven years with two suspended and Aamer for five years. The tribunal had made confession, apology and rehabilitation mandatory to avoid the suspended portion of the ban being activated.
“I accept the punishment from the ICC tribunal in 2011,” Asif said at a news conference. “I apologize for my actions that have brought disrespect to my beloved country, to the millions of fans in Pakistan and in the world.”
An English court jailed the trio and their agent, Mazhar Majeed, over the affair in 2011. The players were released last year.
Asif’s show of contrition comes at the end of a long and exhaustive bid to clear his name that saw him unsuccessfully challenge both his criminal conviction and ICC ban. The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected his attempt to overturn the ICC suspension in April. In June the Court of Appeal in London dismissed his challenge to his conviction.
Asif was touted as the world’s best new-ball bowler by legendary Pakistani paceman Imran Khan. But his career was first derailed in 2006 when he and fellow paceman Shoaib Akhtar tested positive for banned steroids before being let off by a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) tribunal. But another failed dope test in the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008 resulted in a one-year ban for Asif.
He was also detained at Dubai airport on return from the 2008 IPL after a banned drug was found in his possession.
Asif said he felt sorry for his repeated mistakes.
“When I look back at the events of my career, I feel very sorry,” he said, as he warned future players to avoid the pitfalls of fixing. “I request to all the players who want to represent their countries that they must keep away from all sorts of corruption,” he said. “I am ready to help any player who wants to avoid such pitfalls. I will duly cooperate with the ICC, its anti-corruption unit and with the PCB in fighting the corruption in the game.”
Asif said he was ready to go through the PCB rehabilitation program. “I have suffered a lot because of my wrongdoings. Now on the Independence Day of my country, I promise that once my ban finishes I will try to repair the damage I have done.”
Before the ban, Asif had taken 106 wickets in 23 Tests and was widely regarded as one of the most skillful new-ball bowlers in the game.