West Indies news November 19, 2016

Decision in Russell's anti-doping hearing likely in 2-3 weeks

ESPNcricinfo staff

Andre Russell said he found the allegations "stressing and depressing". © BCCI

A decision on whether West Indies allrounder Andre Russell breached the World Anti-doping Agency code by being negligent about filing his whereabouts is likely to be announced by an independent anti-doping tribunal in the next two-three weeks.

In March this year, the Jamaica Anti-doping Commission (JADCO) alleged that Russell had failed to file his whereabouts on three occasions in 2015, citing the dates of January 1, July 1 and July 25. Under the WADA code if an athlete fails to file their whereabouts three times in a year, it amounts to one failed doping test. If found guilty Russell could face a maximum ban of up to two years.

"They have promised a decision I think in the next two to three weeks, but a date would be sent to us shortly," Patrick Foster, Russell's lawyer, said after both parties made their final submissions in front of the three-member panel on Thursday in Kingston.

During the hearing, which lasted nearly six hours, Foster told the tribunal that Russell had always adhered to the rules and had complied with tests, both at the local and international level. Foster stressed there was confusion in communication about the third filing failure, and Russell could not be penalised for no fault of his.

According to the Jamaica Observer, while summing up his arguments during Thursday's hearing, Forster reportedly 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.

Forster, however, insisted that the evidence presented by JADCO against his client was thin. "Our contention is to prove an anti-doping violation there must be three filing failures," Forster said. "And we have said, based on the evidence that they should not be comfortably satisfied that there have been three filing failures; in which case the complaint should be dismissed. Our position is evidence is not sufficient to disclose three filing failures. And if the three cannot be proved the case cannot be made out."

JADCO's legal counsel, Lackston Robinson, did not speak to the media but reportedly told the tribunal that Russell's failure to file his whereabouts in 2015 could not be absolved by his compliance with tests in various jurisdictions. Robinson specified that the dates by which Russell had to inform JADCO whether he would be filing his whereabouts were December 31, 2014, June 30, 2015 and July 24, 2015.

Robinson said that JADCO had no obligation to prove Russell's "gross negligence". He stated that as far as JADCO was concerned, the case was simple: Russell had to meet the deadlines for filing his whereabouts and he did not comply.

Russell, a sought-after player in T20 leagues around the world, has spoken only once since JADCO laid the charge. In July, while playing the Caribbean Premier League, Russell said he found the allegations stressing and depressing. Russell had also missed the T20I series against Pakistan in the UAE in September.

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