Shane Warne 2003 ban: The Australian spinner had received a one-year ban on the eve of Australia’s tournament opener in South Africa.
A fortnight before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 in South Africa, legendary Australia spinner Shane Warne had announced that he will call time on a decade-long ODI career after playing his third World Cup.
Having dismissed 291 batsmen in 193 ODIs at an average of 25.82, an economy rate of 4.25 and a strike rate of 36.4, Warne was Australia’s highest wicket-taker at the time he played his last ODI in January 2003. The illustrious spinner was the sixth-highest wicket-taker among all bowlers around the world in the format.
Representing the defending champions and also the favourites in the 2003 World Cup, one can say that Warne had picked the right time to hang his boots. With us knowing in the hindsight that Australia had won the World Cup, it would have been an “apt” time for Warne to leave one format.
Another reason behind the tournament being all the more special for Warne was that he had injured his shoulder in December 2002 while playing in an ODI against England and was facing a prospect of missing the World Cup. An exceptional five-week recovery saw the then 33-year old bowler take field in an international match in January.
Shane Warne 2003 ban
The fourth match of the tournament was Australia’s opener against Pakistan in Johannesburg. It was on the eve of the match that the Australian board had called for a press conference to announce that Warne was returning home due to failing a routine drug test.
Warne had tested positive for consuming a diuretic known as Moduretic. In what was a prescription drug widely used in the treatment of hypertension, high blood pressure and fluid retention, it was banned for its possible usage as a masking agent for steroids by diluting traces of the substance in the urine. The drug was also commonly used to reduce weight by ridding the body of any excess fluids.
“For Warnie [Shane Warne], who’s been playing international cricket for a decade, to ignore that approach is madness,” the then Australian captain Ricky Ponting was quoted as saying a night before captaining Australia for the first time in a World Cup.
Upon his return in Melbourne, Warne admitted to consuming a tablet given to him by his mother on January 22 to make sure that he looks good in front of the camera and that it had nothing to do with making any banned substance. “Contrary to speculation, taking it had nothing to do with the treatment for my shoulder injury or for masking any banned substance,” Warne said.
In his defence, Warne also mentioned that he did not read the ACB’s playing conditions and that him consuming such a table without knowing about its components was “a reckless act, totally disregarding the consequences”. Warne also hinted at the torn packaging not allowing him to read the list of ingredients.
Warne was subsequently banned for a year contrary to ACB’s directive of banning him for two years. It is said that the leniency was adopted after listening to Dr. Peter Harcourt’s advise.
“Much of Warne’s evidence on these issues was unsatisfactory and the committee does not accept he was entirely truthful in his responses to questions about his knowledge of the ACB anti-doping policy. Coupled with that is his vague, unsatisfactory and inconsistent evidence about the extent of using a Moduretic,” read the finding.
In reply to the verdict, Warne asserted that the penalty was “very harsh” and that he is “extremely disappointed”. After serving a one-year ban, Warne represented Victoria 2nd XI against Queensland at the Junction Oval before representing Australia in the following tour of Sri Lanka.
“I admitted to the hearing that I had taken a tablet in early December. I was doing a lot of wine promotions. I’d had a couple too many bottles of wine and had a few late nights. I took a fluid tablet then. It was to get rid of a double chin. The December test showed small traces of the same thing. That was before my [shoulder] operation. That proves I didn’t take the fluid tablet to mask anything,” Warne had said in his statement.
Apart from Ponting’s criticizing remarks, Warne was also censured by Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath and wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist. Chinaman spinner Brad Hogg had replaced Warne in the World Cup squad as the Aussies went on to lift their second consecutive title after beating India in the final match.
Post his comeback, Warne added to his tally of 193 ODIs by representing ICC World XI in a charity match against Asia XI. Other than that, Warne never got to play an ODI for Australia. At 37, Warne bid adieu to international cricket after the home Ashes in 2006-07.