Russell hearing enters final stretch

The anti-doping hearing to look into whether West Indies allrounder Andre Russell missed three dope tests between January and July last year will resume on Thursday in Kingston. The hearing is significant because an athlete can be suspended for up to two years under the World Anti-Doping Agency code if he misses three tests in a year, which amount to a failed dope test.

On Thursday, an independent three-member anti-doping disciplinary tribunal will hear the final written submissions made by both parties – Russell and the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) – after which it is likely to determine whether Russell was guilty of violating WADA’s whereabouts clause.

Russell, a popular player in various domestic Twenty20 competitions around the world, skipped the T20I series against Pakistan and admitted that the allegations have been “stressing and depressing.”

The following details trace the case from its beginning.

Who has accused Russell of the breach?

In March this year, JADCO alleged that Russell had failed to file his whereabouts three times between January and July 2015, citing the dates of January 1, July 1 and July 25.

What is Russell in breach of?

JADCO’s main claim is that Russell was negligent in filing his whereabouts. Its executive director, Carey Brown, told the tribunal that workshops had been organised between 2014-16 where athletes, including cricketers, were educated on the WADA guidelines and details of filing of the whereabouts clause. He also said that Russell had been contacted via email, on phone and letters by JADCO to remind him about filing his whereabouts on the three occasions he missed the tests.

Tajae Smith, one of the JADCO officials, said that he had guided Judith Lue, a travel consultant authorised by Russell to help him with his visas and such, to file the whereabouts at least twice. Lue had told the tribunal that she had filed the whereabouts for Russell on JADCO’s website twice last year with Smith’s help: on February 17 and April 1.

Nadia Vassell, the whereabouts officer and director of technical services at JADCO, who was also the first witness, told Russell’s legal counsel, Patrick Forster, that a first reminder was sent through a letter on July 6, 2015. An extension was given to Russell to file his whereabouts by July 13, 2015. On July 20, Vassell sent another email to Russell asking him to file his whereabouts by July 24.

What was Russell’s defence?

While deposing before the tribunal, Russell pointed out that he had authorised Smith and his agent Will Quinn to take care of the process since he was not properly trained to carry out the whereabouts filing on his own. He said the reason behind someone else filing it was because of his unavailability due to his cricket commitments.

At a hearing on July 20 last year, Forster said that JADCO’s Vassell failed to copy her response to an e-mail from Quinn sighting an extension for Russell to file his whereabouts for the third test scheduled for July 25, 2015. Vassell admitted she had not sent the e-mail to Russell. Since two the alleged filing failures occurred last July, Forster said he was trying to establish that procedural breaches by JADCO could mean there was actually just one violation on Russell’s behalf.

Russell admitted that he understood the notice sent to him last March informing him about this first filing failure on January 1. But the West Indies allrounder said he did not understand the language in the second notice which was on the second filing failure on July 1. However Lackston Robinson, JADCO’s counsel, argued the language in both notices was the same.

Russell also pointed out that he received a fresh communique from JADCO on September 19, on his third failed test that was scheduled for July 25 last year. Russell said he was “confused” since he had thought Quinn had sorted the matter with JADCO over the extension. But Robinson countered saying Russell would have known about the exchanges between Quinn and JADCO as he was also copied on the email.

What happens now?

On Thursday, the tribunal will hear the final written submissions by both parties. Counsels representing Russell and JADCO were expected to file their written submissions by November 7.

Who sits on the independent panel?

Hugh Faulkner is the chairman of the three-member panel which includes Dr Marjorie Vassell and Dixeth Palmer, a former Jamaica cricketer.

(ESPNcricinfo)

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