West Indies allrounder Andre Russell has been banned for one year from cricket for a whereabouts clause violation by an independent anti-doping panel in Kingston. The ban is effective from January 31, 2017 and will last until January 30, 2018.
The immediate impact of the ban is that Russell will not be able to play the Pakistan Super League in February and the IPL in April.
A three-member tribunal comprising Hugh Faulkner, Dr Marjorie Vassell and Dixeth Palmer, a former Jamaica cricketer, found Russell guilty of being negligent in filing his whereabouts on three separate occasions within a 12-month period in 2015. That - under the World Anti-Doping Agency rules - amounted to a failed dope test.
Patrick Foster, Russell's lawyer, confirmed the verdict and said he would discuss all options with his client including appealing the ban.
In March 2016, the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission pressed charges of negligence against Russell for not filing his whereabouts on January 1, July 1 and July 25 in 2015 despite several reminders through calls, e-mails and written letters.
In his defense, Russell had told the tribunal that he had not been negligent. Considering his cricketing commitments around the world, and his own lack of training in filing the required paperwork, he said he had authorised his agent Will Quinn and Tajae Smith, one of the JADCO officials, to take care of the process.
However, JADCO legal counsel Lackston Robinson disagreed saying the players had been offered education programmes on anti-doping which also involved filing procedure. Robinson accused Russell of "gross negligence" during the hearings.
On November 17 last year, while summing up his arguments during the final hearing before the tribunal retired to decide on the verdict, Foster 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.
At the moment, it is unclear whether Russell will appeal against the verdict, but even if he were to do so, a quick solution to his problem does not seem possible. Depending on where he files his claim and how long it takes to examine the evidence, he might have to deal with another long and difficult legal battle.
That means it is highly likely that Russell will miss his next assignment, the Pakistan Super League which starts on February 9. His team, Islamabad United, have signed England fast bowler Steven Finn as a replacement. Kolkata Knight Riders, the franchise Russell plays for in the IPL, might also think of investing in a replacement at the player auction in February.
Later in 2017, if the ban stays, Russell will miss out on playing for Nottinghamshire in the NatWest T20 Blast and for defending champions Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League.