Russell calls ban uncertainty 'stressing and depressing'
West Indies and Jamaica Tallawahs allrounder Andre Russell has made his first public comments since being charged by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) with committing an "anti-doping whereabouts" violation earlier this year for having allegedly missed three drug tests in a 12-month period. Three missed tests trigger a failed drug test ruling under anti-doping regulations.
Preparing for Tallawahs' final two games of the league stage of the Caribbean Premier League, in Lauderhill, Florida, Russell was asked what it had been like to play with the uncertainty of the JADCO tribunal process hanging over his head. Russell replied by describing the mental strain he has gone through since reports first surfaced in March that he was facing a two-year ban.
"It's not easy, honestly, it's tough," Russell said. "When I cross the rope, I definitely block it off my head but then when you go back to your room and you know you have to face reality and know that something is going on like that, it's kind of stressing and depressing. But I have an amazing bunch of guys around me. So they keep me occupied, they keep me laughing. I just think that is a very good thing to do while going through something like that.
"Everything is in place. My lawyers are doing whatever they have to do so I don't really want to have to talk about it that much."
Russell avoided questions about last week's independent panel hearing, offering a "no comment" when asked about the most recent events. According to The Jamaica Gleaner, Russell's lawyer Patrick Forster claimed at the hearing of an independent panel on July 20 that his client had received correspondence from JADCO for only twice - January to March, 2015 and July to September, 2015 - for allegedly missing the out-of-competition doping tests.
In the mean time, Russell said he was focused on helping the first-place Tallawahs secure a second CPL title, after first winning it in 2013. Tallawahs round out their league stage by playing St Lucia Zouks twice, on July 30 and 31. Heading into the playoffs, a win in either game will clinch first place for Tallawahs, giving them two chances to reach the final.
"This is what we live for, to be on top of the table," Russell said. "We still have a few games to go. We're still not going to take anything for granted. We're going to try and play our best cricket so we can be in form going into the crucial games."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna