Cricket To Step Up Drug Testing Following Death Of Tom Maynard
English cricket bosses "are planning to step up testing for recreational drugs following the death of Tom Maynard," according to Sam Sheringham of the BBC. Post-mortem examination evidence presented at an inquest revealed that the Surrey batsman "was high on cocaine and ecstasy when he was electrocuted before being hit by a train last June." Speaking after a jury at Westminster Coroner's Court returned a verdict of accidental death, coroner Dr. Fiona Wilcox "urged cricket and other sports to introduce hair testing to determine long-term drug habits." The England & Wales Cricket Board and Professional Cricketers' Association "have recently agreed to develop an out-of-competition testing programme to encompass recreational drugs." Both bodies "are holding talks aimed at introducing more testing of hair samples, which can reveal whether players have used recreational drugs in the previous three months." This would follow the example of the Football Association and Rugby Football Union" (BBC, 2/26). WALES ONLINE reported the ECB "is stepping up attempts to discourage cricketers from using recreational drugs." An ECB statement said: "While the ECB accepts that recreational drug use is a part of modern society, we do not condone it and will take all reasonable steps to prevent its use within the game" (WALES ONLINE, 2/27).
MORE TESTING: In London, Andy Wilson reported county cricketers "will be tested more regularly for recreational drugs." The ECB has previously tested for recreational drugs only "in competition" -- between 6am on the first day of a match until an hour after its completion -- with its "out-of-competition testing" only for performance-enhancing drugs, compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency code. But the Maynard case "has stiffened the determination" of both the ECB and the PCA to go beyond the WADA code "in order to protect the players themselves, rather than to prevent them cheating." It is understood that "any player found to have taken a recreational drug would be offered counselling and support in the first instance, with suspensions only applied to repeat offenders" (GUARDIAN, 2/26). In Sydney, Nick Hoult reported after Maynard's death Surrey "conducted an internal investigation," led by the club CEO Richard Gould, and overseen by board members Anthony Grabiner QC and Robert Elliott. They concluded the club "did not have a widespread drug problem" and, according to sources, narrowed its findings to a small "cabal" of players who were socialising too much. But the report concluded that "the club needs stronger players in leadership positions" -- Graeme Smith and Ricky Ponting have been signed for this season -- coaches "will be given more training to spot the symptoms of alcohol or drug use, there will be the adoption of a drugs and alcohol policy across the club and more comprehensive social drug testing policy out of competition" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/27).
CAPTAIN CONCERNED: SPORTINGLIFE reported former England captain Michael Vaughan "has voiced concerns there could be more players who use recreational drugs but hopes this case will act as a deterrent." PCA CEO Angus Porter does not doubt Vaughan but believes that "any problems are more reflective of wider society than anything specific to cricket." Porter said, "We had an early warning of what the pathologist's findings were, so in that sense it wasn't a complete surprise, but we didn't know any of the detail" (SPORTINGLIFE, 2/27). The BBC reported England batsman Ian Bell "is backing plans to increase drug testing" in the wake of Maynard's death. Bell said, "I would welcome testing for recreational drugs. Other sports are doing it, so why not? It is important that whatever is put in place... what has happened, never happens again" (BBC, 2/27). In London, Mike Atherton reported despite certain other players "professing ignorance of drug taking during the hearing, it is highly unlikely that Maynard was the only user of recreational drugs in the county game." And that, of course, will give the PCA "the greatest cause for concern." The "only answer is education: at home, at school and in professional environments." For county clubs and the PCA, "education on a whole raft of issues is vital" (LONDON TIMES, 2/27).