Tag: Andre Russell

Why Andre Russell was banned

If you didn’t know it already, “it’s not my fault, I asked someone else to do it for me” is not a legitimate defence for failing to tell dope testers where you’re going to be. Andre Russell has therefore been handed a one-year ban.

If that sounds harsh, consider that testing athletes for performance enhancing drugs is kind of important. If you can’t test them, you can’t catch them and doping is almost certainly a bigger problem in cricket than anyone currently thinks it is.

Alternatively, you might think the ban too lenient. However, its duration reflects a general impression that Andre Russell is more of a plain old shambles than he is a devious doper playing the system.

The message here – which really isn’t being broadcast loudly enough – is that all professional cricketers have to take anti-doping seriously. Failure to do so undermines confidence in the sport.

The West Indies’ World T20 win last year is far from soiled by the fact that one of their number could have been banned for the entire tournament, but it does have a bit of a greasy smudge on it now. A bigger doping scandal – or a large number of them – would tarnish the event to a greater extent. No-one wants this. Swifter action in such cases wouldn’t go amiss either.

An effective testing regime is a deterrent as much as a means of actually catching people – although it has to do the latter to function as the former. As was mentioned above, if you can’t test athletes, you can’t catch dopers, so there have to be consequences for repeated unavailability for testing.

Unfortunately for Russell, for the reasons given above, being a bit of a shambles and not really worrying too much about letting the doping authorities know where you’re going to be simply doesn’t cut it as an explanation.


Andre Russell might actually find out whether he’s going to be banned from cricket next week

If you’ve a decent memory, you might remember that Andre Russell had a possible two-year ban from cricket hanging over him after being unavailable for three doping tests during a 12-month period back in 2015.

‘Oh yeah,’ you may think. ‘What happened with that in the end?’

Well, the answer is that Andre Russell still has a possible two-year ban from cricket hanging over him. According to Cricinfo, the anti-doping panel will finally deliver its verdict next week.

We’ve read quite a bit about this case. As with pretty much anything that involves lawyers, the relentless arguing over every last little procedural detail only really leaves you pondering the brevity of life.

The gist is that Russell didn’t miss any tests in the literal sense, he just didn’t maintain his ‘whereabouts’ information. However, being as this information is what’s used to ensure that an athlete can be tested, as far as the doping agency’s concerned, it amounts to the same thing.

The whereabouts system is used in all sports. You can even update information on the day, an hour before your designated testing window. Russell said he didn’t know how to use the website. In fact he said he found the whole system a bit confusing and so asked his agent and travel agent to look after it for him.

Set against that, the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission’s case is something like: ‘Tough shit, it’s your responsibility.’

And after that, it all got a bit…

‘You never showed me how to use the system properly.’

‘You never asked us to show you how to use it.’

Our take is that Russell’s approach to the system seems believably shambolic, but we’re not really sure that’s an acceptable excuse.

In any case, the more important point, surely, is that we are talking about 2015 filing failures in 2017 and there has still been no decision taken.

This isn’t fair on fans, who could in theory have spent the last couple of years watching someone who has had an unfair advantage over the men he has played against. Nor is it fair on Russell, who has had a potential two-year ban hanging over him that whole time for what may prove to be little more than a minor administrative failure.

Cricket really isn’t very good at this sort of thing.


Virat Kohli is not a bowler, Lendl Simmons is not out, Andre Russell is not suspended

India became so utterly convinced of Virat Kohli’s Midas touch that they gave him an over with the ball. He took a wicket with his first ball. That was the point where they should probably have drawn a line under things. Instead, Kohli came back to bowl the final over with the West Indies needing eight to win.

Is wishful thinking a legitimate way to decide on bowling changes with the outcome of a World T20 semi-final at stake? Andre Russell hit a four and a six.

It has to be said, Andre Russell hit the ball very hard throughout. Watching him employ his giant muscles – which may or may not have been naturally produced (we don’t know which, because he doesn’t take dope tests) – it was easy to see how a soupcon of extra power can help make small gaps larger.  At the other end, Lendl Simmons repeatedly walked on and off the pitch after succumbing to three non-dismissals. Clearly aware that it was his day, he hit 83 somehow-not-out off 51 balls.

In addition to Kohli’s dreamlike batting and the West Indies’ crunching boundary-hitting, there was plenty of the truly entertaining stuff – you know, missed run-outs (including two off one ball), dismissals off no-balls, catches that turn out to be sixes and overthrows. Top stuff everyone. More of this kind of thing.


Andre Russell, dope testing and cricket’s changing culture

Andre Russell has not been caught doping, but he’s been unavailable for three tests in a year. At best, this is moronic and being a moron is no defence.

Russell should face a two-year ban, but we’re interested to see what actually happens. Cricket has traditionally been pretty soft on doping, barely testing at all, but a smattering of cases in recent months – Yasir Shah, Kusal Perera – is perhaps a sign that this is becoming a new ‘thing’ for the ICC.

A large proportion of the small handful of doping cases in cricket listed on Wikipedia involve recreational drugs, but the sport has an increasingly close link to gym culture where steroid use is thought to be becoming mainstream.

It’s impossible to know how many people are on the ‘roids these days but you can be certain that not every physique you see about town has been sculpted on bread and water. The chief executive of UK Anti Doping, Nicole Sapstead, recently told The Telegraph her fears that doping was becoming ‘normalised’.

In cricket, pros are given that many funny blue drinks and recovery powders that the line between food and drugs may become blurred. Christ knows, cricketers aren’t great at perceiving lines anyway, whether on the field or off it. You could understand if a few went to unacceptable lengths in trying to build the oh-so-financially-rewarding six-hitting physique that is increasingly commonplace nowadays.

This isn’t to say that Russell’s one of those, but against that backdrop, you take your tests and nip controversy in the bud. Once there’s smoke in the air, it can be impossible to blow away because you can never really provide conclusive proof that you’re not doping – just ask Chris Froome.

Cricket is of course a game of skill, but the ability to bowl the ball faster and hit the ball harder clearly has an impact. If the latter in particular is becoming increasingly important, it’s pertinent to wonder what lies in that direction.


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