In a startling revelation, former Pakistan cricketer Qasim Umar has claimed that former West Indies captain Vivian Richards used to take performance enhancement drugs before the new anti-doping regulations were enforced by the ICC.
Appearing on television talk show on Thursday, Umar, a controversial figure in Pakistan cricket, said Richards had himself confessed to him that he used to take drugs to release tension and improve his stamina and endurance levels. "Use of drugs was common among many players and they used to transport these drugs in their kit bags," Umar said.
He had also accused former Pakistan captain Imran Khan and other players of using
their kit bags to transport drugs to the United Kingdom. and was subsequently banned for life by the Pakistan Cricket Board. Umar's accusation had led to the customs authorities at the Heathrow airport unleash sniffer dogs on the Pakistan team when they landed for a Test tour in 1987.
"I spoke the truth and I was penalised for it and my career was destroyed. But I stand by what I said. Players did use drugs and they transported them frequently in their kit bags," he said. "I know of players who used and carried drugs. This was common until anti-doping laws became more stringent in international cricket and drugs cheats were caught," he added.
Umar recalled that on the 1993 tour to the West Indies, four Pakistani players only escaped a criminal trial in Grenada after they were arrested for smoking marijuana only because the cricket authorities back home told their West Indies counterparts that they would call back the team if the players were prosecuted. "The West Indies board relented because they faced financial problems."
Umar also blasted the PCB for failing to deliver the goods. "Honest and straight forward people can't survive in Pakistan cricket which is perhaps the worst cricket system in the world. I spoke the truth and my career ended," he said. He pointed out that the board was not properly utilising the services of former greats.
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