Graham Wagg, the Warwickshire and England A allrounder, has been banned from cricket until January 2006 after being found guilty of cocaine use by an ECB disciplinary hearing.
Wagg, 21, was a member of the Warwickshire squad that won the Frizzell County Championship this season, although he did not play because of a back injury. He took five wickets on his Championship debut in 2002, and he had been tipped for greater things after touring India and Malaysia with England A last winter.
Warwickshire were fully in support of the ECB's decision to ban Wagg for 15 months, which was made at Lord's on Monday. "The club does not condone the use of illegal drugs in any circumstances," said a spokesman in a statement, "and continues to take a very firm stance in such cases. The club is very disappointed that one of its players has tested positive for a banned substance, but is pleased to note that he has shown remorse and pleaded guilty to this serious offence."
Wagg's contract will be terminated as soon as is legally practicable, although the spokesman added that the club would continue to provide the best possible advice, support and encouragement during his rehabilitation period.
A statement released on Wagg's behalf demonstrated his contrition. "He is conscious he has let himself, his county and the game of cricket down. He accepts his punishment with humility and will do his very best to return to cricket a better and stronger cricketer and person."
The situation echoes that of the former England seam bowler, Ed Giddins, who in 1996 was banned for 18 months for cocaine abuse, and subsequently sacked by his club, Sussex. Ironically, he went on to enjoy a successful stint at Warwickshire, and played in four Tests from 1999-2000.