A big cloud hangs over my head – Russell

Andre Russell is praying and hoping that the independent anti-doping tribunal does not ban him for missing out on filing his whereabouts on three occasions in 2015. The three-member tribunal will deliver the verdict in Kingston on Tuesday.

If found guilty, Russell could face a maximum ban of up to two years under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules. Missing three tests in 12-month period amounts to a failed dope test under the WADA guidelines.

“It’s been stressing and hard playing cricket and all that’s in the back of your head. But at the end of the day you have to do what you have to do,” Russell told Jamaican Observer. “It’s like a big cloud over my head. If I get a ban then definitely I’m out of cricket [during the period of the suspension]; I mean all formats. So I’d just love to know I’m back and I can represent Jamaica Tallawahs, West Indies, and all the other teams I play for in the world.

“Honestly, I’m being positive and I haven’t been thinking about anything else that I want to do apart from playing cricket; doing what I love. I have so many fans out there and they would be disappointed, just as I would be. I just want to remain positive at the moment. I think I can [avoid a suspension] with the help of God; I think it’s out of my control, so I just have to wait on what happens on Tuesday.”

In March 2016, Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) pressed a legal charge against Russell for failing to provide his whereabouts between January and July 2015. According to JADCO Russell had failed to file his whereabouts on January 1, July 1 and July 25 that year despite several reminders over email, phone and letters.

In his defence, Russell told the tribunal that he had not been properly trained to file the whereabouts, and that he had authorised his agent and travel agent to file his whereabouts since he was busy with cricket commitments.

The three-member tribunal comprising Hugh Faulkner, Dr Marjorie Vassell and Dixeth Palmer, a former Jamaica cricketer, has been deliberating on the case for a long time and even delayed the original verdict date last December.

Russell, who is recovering from a left hamstring injury which forced him out midway through the Big Bash League in Australia earlier this month, tested his fitness last Saturday when he turned to play a league game for St Catherine’s Cricket Club. He ended up with three wickets which played a role in his team’s victory.

Last July, while playing for the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League, Russell had said it had been “depressing” for him to carry on playing while the hearings were on. Ahead of the hearing, he hoped his prayers would be answered.

“As I said in the team meeting to the guys, I just would love for them to say a prayer for me, and I’ve been praying for myself as well,” he said. “I have faith (in) the work that my lawyers put out… I think they summed up things very well.”

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