ECB implements harsher penalties for players who fail drugs tests

Alex Hales (Getty Images)
Alex Hales (Getty Images)

The suspension that led to Alex Hales missing the 2019 World Cup has been dropped as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed harsher financial penalties for those found to have tested positive for recreational drugs.

Hales was removed from all England squads ahead of last year's international summer after it was revealed the opening batsman was serving a 21-day ban for failing a recreational drugs test for the second time in his career.

But the ECB's revised policy this year will eradicate classified suspensions for a second recreational drugs test failure in favour of levying a 10 percent fine on a player's annual salary, up from five percent.

The first two violations would remain confidential but a third would be made public and trigger a 12-month playing ban, with the ECB looking to strike a balance in its regulations between deterrents and player welfare.

An ECB spokesperson said: "We can confirm that there has been an update to the Recreational Drugs Policy for 2020. This was part of a broad consultation involving stakeholders from the wider game including first-class counties and PCA.

"The policy takes into account the important consideration of player welfare whilst ensuring there are meaningful sanctions for each violation. There was further consensus from all parties that any bans will be made public."

With confidential suspensions at an end, only the player and senior figures at their county and the ECB as well as the CEO of the Professional Cricketers' Association will be aware of the first two recreational failures.

That should eliminate the chain of events that led to England axing Hales, whose initial absence from the county circuit after being named in the provisional World Cup squad was explained as the player taking a break for "personal reasons".

England captain Eoin Morgan was among those to be caught off-guard when Hales' positive test came to light.

With that misdemeanour coming only a few months after he was suspended and fined following his role in the Bristol street brawl in 2017, Morgan cited a "breakdown in trust" in Hales' removal from the England squad. He has not played for his country since then.

- TEAMtalk media

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