Ian Bell: We must wage war on drugs

England batsman backs introduction of tests on hair samples to detect use of recreational substances

Ian Bell has called on the cricket authorities to pull out all the stops to prevent a repeat of the tragic circumstances of Tom Maynard’s death.

The England batsman has backed plans to increase drug testing in the sport after it emerged at an inquest on Tuesday that the former Surrey player had been a habitual cocaine user. Maynard had taken the substance as well as ecstasy, and had been drinking, on the day he was hit by a Tube train on a live rail near Wimbledon Park station in London last June.

“I would welcome testing for recreational drugs,” Bell said. “Other sports are doing it, so why not? It is important that whatever is put in place, what has happened never happens again. Hopefully, with things being put in place we can stop this happening in future.”

Bell heard news of the tragic circumstances after scoring a century for England in a warm-up game in New Zealand before the Test series. The coroner at Westminster, Dr Fiona Wilcox, called upon cricket and other sports to introduce hair testing to determine long-term drug habits and Bell backed the efforts of the England and Wales Cricket Board, which has said it will look into implementing out-of-competition tests for recreational drugs as early as next summer. Such samples hitherto have been screened only for performance-enhancing substances.

Angus Porter, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, said of the coroner’s recommendation: “If you do hair sampling you are testing over an extended period. In Tom’s case the hair sample gave a three-and-a-half-month history. Therefore they are a more complete test than a urine test that might only look at what you have taken in the last 24 to 48 hours.”

Porter, however, was keen to stress that he did not believe cricket had a major drugs problem. “While Tom’s case is shocking I don’t think it is evidence of a widespread problem,” he said. “I think we can be fairly confident he was unusual in terms of the extent of his apparent addiction to recreational drugs, and reasonably confident there are not a lot of players out there who have got similar problems. We’re not complacent but I would say the problems in cricket are reflective of the problems in society as a whole.”

The ECB may also increase the amount of testing but Porter does not feel the governing body’s current policy had been misguided. “In the last five years we have only had one positive result out of hundreds of tests,” he said. “The data is overwhelmingly negative.” He stressed that the idea of increasing the amount of testing was not part of a witch-hunt, but would be designed to help players address their problems. “We should do it more from a pastoral, duty of care perspective. I would hate to think anybody was suggesting we should increase the amount of testing in order to punish people. Somebody taking recreational drugs is not trying to cheat. Their motives are quite different.”

The Maynard inquest has cast a shadow over England’s forthcoming Test series, which starts in Dunedin on Tuesday. Bell scored 127 not out in the tourists’ total of 357 for 7 against a New Zealand XI in Queenstown in the only warm-up game. He added 97 with the side’s latest sensation, Joe Root, who made 49. Root has secured the No 6 berth in the Tests, while Nick Compton will hang on to the opener’s slot he filled during the successful Test series in India before Christmas.

Bell had batted with Root in the fourth Test against India at Nagpur, Root’s debut, as they ensured the series-winning draw. “Joe is very cool and calm, that’s the impressive thing about him,” said Bell, looking forward to two Ashes series against Australia this year.

Meanwhile, MCC has put forward cricket’s claims for inclusion in the 2024 Olympics. The World Cricket committee, which acts as a complementary body to the International Cricket Council, is backing the inclusion of Twenty20 cricket in the Games, believing it could lead to “a potential boost” in the profile of the sport. Cricket would have to apply to be on the programme for future Olympics, but has passed through the first stage of selection, having received full Olympic recognition in 2010.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Rebel, rebel: Vivienne Westwood in her baroque-influenced early-Nineties designs
fashionWhy we mustn't take Dame Vivienne Westwood for granted
News
The police have been criticised in a raid on the luxury home of Sir Cliff Richard
people
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Sport
Harry Kane
premier leagueLive minute-by-minute coverage
Arts and Entertainment
Morgana Robinson
arts + entsIt is not easy interviewing Morgana Robinson. Here's why...
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin