County news June 2, 2005

Warwickshire sack Piper

Cricinfo staff and AFP

Keith PIper has had his contract terminated © Getty Images

Keith Piper, the Warwickshire wicketkeeper, has been sacked by the county after he failed a drugs test and was ruled out of the rest of the season by being banned for four months. Piper's position will be reviewed at the end of this season, but in the meantime the club will help him through a rehabilitation programme, including counselling, as recommended by the ECB panel which banned him last month.

Last month Piper, 35, pleaded guilty to a doping offence involving cannabis after the first county match of the season, where Warwickshire played Glamorgan. Dennis Amiss, Warwickshire's chief executive, said: "In the light of Keith Piper's positive test for cannabis and the decision of the ECB disciplinary committee to ban him from professional cricket for four months until the end of September 2005, Warwickshire have terminated Keith's playing contract for 2005 with immediate effect.

"The focus now is on Keith's rehabilitation programme to which Keith and the county club are fully committed," Amiss added. "In that we will be supported by the ECB and the Professional Cricketers' Association. We are aware of Keith's positive response to a difficult situation and we are confident that the rehabilitation will be successful."

The ECB panel which banned him said at the time that if Piper wanted to return to county cricket he should also undergo drug counselling and undertake a drug test before September 30, which would be administered under the auspices of the ECB. The panel also added that Piper would "thereafter be target-tested six times in the following 18 months". Piper, who had been playing mainly one-day cricket of late, was ordered to pay £250 (US$455) towards the costs of the hearing.

In 1997, Piper failed an in-house drugs test for which he served a one-match ban. His fellow Warwickshire players Paul Smith, now retired, and Graham Wagg have also served drugs-related bans. Last season Wagg was given a 15-month ban by the ECB after testing positive for cocaine and, as a consequence, saw Warwickshire terminate his contract. On Sunday, Piper's former Warwickshire captain Dermot Reeve, the retired England international, admitted that he was fighting cocaine addiction.