Disgraced Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif on Wednesday apologized for his role in a 2010 spot-fixing scandal, accepting his guilt for the first time and assuming a five-year ban. The 30-year-old is the last of three players to make a confession, after team-mates 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 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 apologies for my actions that have brought disrespect to my beloved country, to the millions of fans in Pakistan and in the world.” The trio and their agent Mazhar Majeed were also jailed by an English court 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 pace man Imran Khan. But his career was first derailed in 2006 when he and fellow pace man Shoaib Akhtar tested positive for banned steroids.