Drugs issue clear cut for Colly
England batsman Paul Collingwood insists there can be no excuse for modern-day cricketers who test positive for drugs.
To Collingwood - an ambassador for UK Sport’s 100% Me campaign, which educates sportsmen on doping and promotes the benefits of drug-free competition - the responsibility ultimately lies with the individual.
County players undergo regular random tests during the domestic season and those in the England set-up are reminded of what they can and cannot take - from cold and flu medicines to energy supplements and pain killers - by the medical support staff.
Like England, Pakistan are signed up to World Anti-Doping Agency protocol, so the news that former Durham team-mate Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif had proved positive for banned anabolic steroid Nandrolone came as a surprise to Collingwood.
“He was fantastic when he was at Durham - he was a match-winner for us with his raw, express pace,” said Collingwood.
“He was good to play with, I learnt a lot from him and it was a bit of a shock yesterday.
“If you took him with a pinch of salt he was fine, a decent bloke, and he came and did what was expected of him and won us games.”
Tested twice himself during the 2006 season, once before a Test match and once during one, Collingwood believes England’s players are switched on to the practice of checking everything that is taken orally or administered through injection.
“Everything is regulated and you have to be really careful what you put inside your body,” said Collingwood.
“Every team has people in place to advise you - physiologist Nigel Stockill or one of the other members of the medical staff will be gauging what is good for us and what is not.
“There are companies out there who have got the British Standard and those are the ones you have to stick with.
“But in the end it is up to yourself to go out there and check these things.
“Not everybody will but there are websites where you can check and it will give you a little tick or a cross.
“It is up to the athlete themselves to check these things - that’s why the website is called 100% Me.
“You can be advised but when you put something in your body in the end it is your decision to put it in.”
Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has suggested that Shoaib and Asif received injections while at home recovering from injury.
“Nobody wants to be taking drugs and they certainly don’t want to be caught taking drugs when they didn’t think they were taking drugs,” added Collingwood.
“That’s the scariest thing about it. I’m sure this will open a lot of people’s eyes.
“You have to check everything 100% because you don’t want to get in a horrible situation when you take something you didn’t realise you were taking.
“You might have a couple of protein shakes at the gym and you just never know.
“Although it sounds ridiculous, it can be frightening sometimes even if you take something as simple as a Beechams for a cold.”