Colombo: The left-handed batsman, Upul Tharanga was informed by the International Cricket Council that he tested positive for a banned substance, the sports ministry spokesman Harsha Abeykoon said.
 
Subsequently, a three-member panel has been set up by sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage to launch inquire into the case.

However, Sri Lanka Cricket, the country's governing body for the sport, is yet to be informed by the ICC about the dope flunk, the spokesman said.

The ICC is also yet to make the dope flunk official.

"The minister appointed the ministry secretary Udaya Seneviratne, Dr Geethanjana Mendis and Dr Maiya Gunasekera to investigate. They will be recording a statement from Tharanga," Harsha Abeykoon, the sports ministry media spokesman, said.

Apart from the sports secretary, the other two members are physicians with extensive experience of sports medicine.

26-year-old Tharanga tested positive for banned substance prednisolone - a drug for asthma, a condition from which he is said to suffer. He became the first Sri Lankan cricketer to have failed a dope test. He is also set to face an ICC inquiry.

Tharanga, a left-handed opening batsman, had a pretty good World Cup even scoring a century in the semifinal against England, but was not picked for the current tour of England.

He has said that a well-known medical practitioner, who had treated Indian stars Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and Ashish Nehra, prescribed the medicine containing the
banned substance to him.


The blood sample was taken in Colombo during the World Cup and the embarrassing development comes amid allegations by former skipper Hashan Tilakaratne that Sri Lankan players have been responsible for match fixing since 1992.

After the news of the dope flunk broke out in a report in a local daily yesterday, Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Nishantha Ranatunga had denied knowledge of Tharanga's failed dope test.

"Officially we know nothing about Tharanga's case. SLC has not received any complaints or reports about the use of the banned substance called Prednisolone from any organization or agency," he said.

ICC spokesman James Fitzgerald has also yesterday refused to comment on the matter.

According to the ICC's anti-doping code, a player is responsible for any prohibited substance found to be present in his or her test sample. If a player needs to take a drug that is on the World Anti-Doping Authority's (WADA's) banned list in order to treat an illness, he is required to apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).

Under the dope-testing process, if a player's 'A' sample is found to contain a banned substance, he will have the option of asking for his 'B' sample to be tested as well.

If his 'B' sample is also found to be positive, the player could face a provisional suspension until the ICC carries out its inquiry. If the 'B' sample is negative, the investigation is discontinued.

(Agencies)