Sport : Cricket

Porter: Drug use not widespread

27th February 2013, 04:40pm

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Tom Maynard: Inquest revealed drug use

Tom Maynard: Inquest revealed drug use

Players' union chief Angus Porter was "shocked" at the extent of tragic Tom Maynard's drug use but does not believe it indicates a widespread problem within cricket.

A coroner has revealed the Surrey batsman was high on cocaine and ecstasy, and had been a regular user, when he was killed on a train track last June.

The 23-year-old was also nearly four times over the drink-driving limit after a night out.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has voiced concerns there could be more players who use recreational drugs but hopes this case will act as a deterrent.

Porter, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, does not doubt Vaughan but believes any problems are more reflective of wider society than anything specific to cricket.

"We had an early warning of what the pathologist's findings were, so in that sense it wasn't a complete surprise, but we didn't know any of the detail," said Porter. "I think we were all shocked at the level of drugs and alcohol that were found in Tom's body. I think that has caused us to pause and think a bit.

"But while Tom's case is shocking I don't think it is evidence of a widespread problem.

"The levels shown in the inquest are ones which, had Tom been tested last summer, there is little doubt he would have failed a drugs test.

"As chance had it, he wasn't selected for a test, which is a random process.

"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 England and Wales Cricket Board, in conjunction with the PCA, intends to step up its drug-testing programme as a result.

At present no tests are carried out for recreational drugs out of competition - roughly defined as any day on which a game is not taking place - in line with World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines. Samples taken on out-of-competition days are therefore only screened for performance-enhancing substances.

This is likely to change and, as well as increasing the number of tests, other methods are expected to be considered.

Porter said: "The coroner made a recommendation we should seriously consider hair-sampling.

"I think 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 robust and more complete test than a urine test that might only look at what you have taken in the last 24-48 hours."

Despite the desire for improvement and the fact Maynard's problem went undetected, Porter does not feel the current testing procedures - an average of 200 tests are carried out each year - are lightweight.

He said: "In the last five years we have only had one positive result out of hundreds of tests. The data is overwhelmingly negative."

Porter is keen to point out that an increased testing programme does not mean recreational drug-users would be hunted out and punished.

He would like players to see it more as a way of helping them address their problems.

He said: "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.

"We have to make sure results are treated in confidence and they lead to a process of counselling and treatment, rather than punishment - until or unless that individual is not heeding the warning or working to solve their problem."

Maynard's former Surrey team-mate Mark Ramprakash, who retired last summer, also does not think drug use is a big problem in the sport.

Ramprakash told Sky Sports News: "I'd be very surprised if it is, I must say.

"We have to ask questions, naturally, as to whether more could have been done regarding Tom's situation but I think the main thing is that his tragic passing is used in a positive way, to try to learn lessons from that and try to educate young cricketers and young people in general."

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