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Alex Hales has been banned for 21 days after a positive drugs test and removed from the preliminary World Cup squad. The England batsman failed a routine hair drug test that all professional cricketers are required to undergo at the beginning of every season. First offences for recreational, as opposed to performance-enhancing, drugs are treated as a welfare issue, but as this was a second offence it triggers a 3-week ban and a fine.

The England player will not travel to Ireland for the 1-day international in Dublin and has also been withdrawn from the squad that will face Pakistan before the World Cup.

Commenting on the decision, Ashley Giles (managing director of England’s men’s cricket) said: “We have thought long and hard about this decision. We have worked hard to create the right environment around the England team and need to consider what is in the best interests of the team, to ensure they are free from any distractions and able to focus on being successful on the pitch.”

Routine drug testing

Routine drug-testing for cricketers was introduced in 2013 at the recommendation of the coroner at the inquest into the death of Surrey’s Tom Maynard, who was electrocuted on a tube line while under the influence of drink and drugs. The drug tests can detect banned substances for up to 3 months after they have been taken.

The policy of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is that the first time a cricketer fails a hair-follicle test it is treated as a welfare issue and they are offered advice and support by the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA). Only the cricketer’s welfare director, the ECB’s anti-doping manager, the ECB’s chief medical officer and the medical officer at their county are notified of the failed test. For a second offence, the player is usually banned for 3 weeks and fined 5% of their annual salary. At this point, the management team at the player’s county are told as well as the chief executives at the ECB and PCA.

For a third offence, the player can be banned for a year or more. Durham batsman Jack Burnham has returned to playing this season after a year-long ban for three failed tests. He has since received professional treatment and is in regular contact with a counsellor. AlphaBiolabs offers routine drug screening for various sports organisations and educational institutions. For information on our urine drug tests and hair drug testing please call us on 0333 600 1300, email at info@alphabiolabs.com, or visit our website at www.alphabiolabs.co.uk.