ENGLAND batsman Ian Bell has backed plans for cricket’s governing body to begin testing players’ hair samples to crack down on drug use and avoid a repeat of the circumstances surrounding the death of Tom Maynard last June.
An inquest into the former Surrey cricketer’s death, held earlier this week, heard that tests of hair samples suggested the 23-year-old had been a regular cocaine user. Maynard had been drinking heavily and also taken ecstasy when he died on the tracks of the London Underground.
At present, urine samples which are taken on non-match days test for performance enhancing substances rather than recreational drugs.
Those within cricket, including Maynard’s former Surrey team-mate Mark Ramprakash, believe a widespread drug problem does not exist in dressing rooms. But Bell has backed plans for the England and Wales Cricket Board to implement more stringent testing if it means avoiding a repeat of Maynard’s death.
“I would welcome testing for recreational drugs,” said Bell. “Obviously it’s sad, but hopefully with things being put in place we can stop this happening in future.”
Chief executive of the Professional Cricketers Association’ Angus Porter believes the increased testing should go further than simply punishing players and include a subsequent rehabilitation plan.
“Somebody taking recreational drugs is not trying to cheat, their motives are quite different,” he said.
“We have to make sure results are treated in confidence and they lead to a process of counselling and treatment, rather than punishment.”