The West Indies team has been hit by controversy on the eve of the International Cricket Council’s Twenty20 World Cup in India that starts next Tuesday.
Top alrounder Andre Russell, who is expected to play a major role in the regional side’s attempt to win the coveted trophy, could be hit with a two-year ban from the game as a result of an anti-doping violation.
It was revealed today that the talented Jamaican cricketer had committed an “anti-doping whereabouts” violation. According to the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), Russell, has reportedly missed three drug tests in a 12-month period, which equates to a failed test under doping laws.
“We received notification of Russell’s violation about two weeks ago and I’ve appointed a panel to hear his case,” JADCO independent disciplinary panel chairman Kent Pantry told international news agency Reuters today.
According to the regulations athletes must make their whereabouts known to local anti-doping agencies for at least one hour each day, so they are available for testing. Russell could be banned for two years if found guilty of violating this stipulation.
“There is a process regarding the findings by JADCO,” the West Indies Cricket Board said in a statement today. “All that will be observed and you will be advised accordingly.”
With his explosive batting, high intensity fielding and fiery fast bowling, Russell is one of the world’s most sought after Twenty20 professionals. He claimed 16 wickets in 10 games and scored 185 runs at a blistering rate of 187 to help the Adelaide Thunder win the Big Bash League in Australia recently. Those performances earned him a spot in the BBL 2015 Team of the Tournament.
Last month Russell helped Islamabad United win the inaugural Pakistan Super League and was named man of the tournament. He also won the Indian Premier League championship with the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2014. Russell was also a key performer in the inaugural Caribbean Premier League won by the Jamaica Tallawahs in 2013.
The Jamaican star has also plied his trade for the Sylhet Royals in Bangladesh and Worcestershire in England in 2013. Last week it was revealed that English county Nottinghamshire held initial talks about signing Russell to play in the 2016 T20 Blast. The county have already signed Dan Christian but want another overseas signing for the shortest form of the game. Director of cricket Mick Newell said the club had discussions with Russell’s agent.
He has played 51 One-Day Internationals and 35 Twenty20 Internationals for the West Indies but has only one Test cap – against Sri Lanka in November 2010. He has shown an aversion to playing Test cricket, though, blaming a troublesome knee for his preference for the shorter forms of the game.
His reluctance to play Test cricket has caused some frustration for chief selector Clive Lloyd who has cited his ability to be a major force in the longest form of the game.
Speaking at the annual New Year’s lecture in Cape Town last year, Lloyd said Russell had the potential to be the best allrounder in the world.
“Someone like Andre Russell, I spoke to him only a month ago and said you can get into our Test side because you are one of the best all-rounders in the world. A couple of weeks later he told me he has got a bad knee and could only play one-dayers.
“It’s such a waste that we have a guy who could be a great cricketer who is now not thinking of playing both formats. We have contracts, probably not as exorbitant as others, but they are getting good money. It doesn’t seem playing for our country is paramount where these players are concerned.”
Despite Russell’s reported dodgy knee, he has been playing Twenty20 cricket consistently across the globe over the past three years.