West Indies allrounder Andre Russell has been banned for one year from cricket for a whereabouts clause violation by an independent anti-doping panel in Kingston. The ban is effective from today and will last until January 30, 2018.
A three-member tribunal comprising Hugh Faulkner, Dr Marjorie Vassell and Dixeth Palmer, a former Jamaica cricketer, found Russell guilty of being negligent in filing his whereabouts on three separate occasions within a 12-month period in 2015. That – under the World Anti-Doping Agency rules – amounted to a failed dope test. Under the rules Russell could have been banned for two years. Patrick Foster, Russell’s lawyer, confirmed the verdict and said he would discuss all options with his client including appealing the ban.
In March 2016, the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) pressed charges of negligence against Russell for not filing his whereabouts on January 1, July 1 and July 25 in 2015 despite several reminders through calls, e-mails and written letters.
In his defence, Russell had told the tribunal that he had not been negligent. Considering his cricketing commitments around the world, and his own lack of training in filing the required paperwork, he said he had authorised his agent Will Quinn and Tajae Smith, one of the JADCO officials, to take care of the process.
However, JADCO legal counsel Lackston Robinson disagreed saying the players had been offered education programmes on anti-doping which also involved filing procedure. Robinson accused Russell of “gross negligence” during the hearings.
On November 17 last year, while summing up his arguments during the final hearing before the tribunal retired to decide on the verdict, Foster told the tribunal that if firm evidence of negligence was indeed established and Russell was found guilty then, keeping in mind his history of complying with testing protocols in the past, he ought to be banned for not more than one year.
At the moment, it is unclear whether Russell will appeal against the verdict, but even if he were to do so, a quick solution to his problem does not seem possible. Depending on where he files his claim and how long it takes to examine the evidence, he might have to deal with another long and difficult legal battle.
That means it is highly likely that Russell will miss his next assignment, the Pakistan Super League which starts on February 9. In any case, his team, Islamabad United, have already named England fast bowler Steven Finn as a replacement. Kolkata Knight Riders, the franchise Russell plays for in the IPL, might also think of investing in a replacement at the player auction in February.
Later in 2017, if the ban stays, Russell will miss out on playing for Nottinghamshire in the NatWest T20 Blast and for defending champions Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League.
Giving a perspective on this latest development, chairman of the National Anti-Doping Commission of Barbados and the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organisation, Dr Adrian Lorde, told Barbados TODAY that previously the whereabouts clause violation related to missing three tests in 18 months. This he said had been reduced to 12 months in 2015. He said that Russell would have missed the drug test three times in the space of seven months.
“He is an international cricketer and he would have know this. He would have been told this [rules related to whereabouts violations],” Dr Lorde noted. He explained that Russell’s test was to be a local test administered by JADCO and after each missed test he would have been informed of what was required of him.
The medical professional told Barbados TODAY that during the period of the ban the dynamic Jamaican allrounder could not play, practise, train or coach cricket or be involved in any other sport that has signed on to the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Lorde stressed that sports persons, especially those at the international level, were educated about the rules and protocols as they related to anti-doping. He said the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organisation had been contracted by the West Indies Cricket Board to do lectures at all levels and he added that JADCO would have done the same.
Dr Lorde also indicated that athletes were privy to the ADAMS system which was a Web-based database management system introduced basically to simplify the process for athletes and other individuals involved in sporting activity, as it related to anti-doping. He said the system could be used by sports persons or their representatives to give updates about their whereabouts whether in or out competition.
Quizzed as to whether Russell could be subjected to testing while on his one-year ban, Dr Lorde said the anti-doping agency had the authority to conduct such tests but this was usually done in the last quarter of any ban. He added that when Russell returned to cricket he could be targeted for further testing.