Brendan Taylor (IANS/File photo)

Brendan Taylor (IANS/File photo)

Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor banned from all cricket for three and a half years

Dubai, January 28, 2022

Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor has been banned from all cricket for three and a half years after he accepted breaching four charges of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code and, separately, one charge of the ICC Anti-Doping Code.

The announcement by the International Cricket Council (ICC) came four days after Taylor, a wicket-keeper-batsman, said on Twitter on January 24 that an unnamed Indian businessman allegedly tried to force him to spot-fix international games, threatening to make public a video of him taking cocaine if he did not submit to his command.

Taylor said he had later approached the ICC which, after hearings, was going to impose a multi-year ban on him.

"Mr Taylor admitted to being in breach of the following provisions of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code:

Article 2.4.2 – Failing to disclose (without unnecessary delay) the receipt of any gift, payment, hospitality or other benefit that (a) the participant knew or should have known was given to them to procure a breach of the Code or (b) that was made or given in circumstances that could bring the participant or the sport of cricket into disrepute.

Article 2.4.3 - Failing to disclose to the ACU (without unnecessary delay) receipt of gifts/hospitality with a value of US$750 or more regardless of the circumstances in which they were given.

Article 2.4.4 – Failing to disclose to the ACU (without unnecessary delay) full details of the approach received to engage in corrupt conduct under the Code including in relation to Zimbabwe’s then upcoming series against Sri Lanka and/or Bangladesh.

Article 2.4.7 – obstructing or delaying an ACU investigation, including concealing, tampering with or destroying any documentation or other information that may be relevant to that investigation and / or that may be evidence of or may lead to the discovery of evidence of corrupt conduct under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code," a press release from the International Cricket Council said here.

The release said Taylor chose to admit the charges under the provisions of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code and agreed a sanction with the ICC in lieu of an Anti-Corruption Tribunal hearing.

His violation under the ICC Anti-Doping Code, which is separate and independent of the anti-corruption charges, resulted from an In-Competition test conducted on 8 September 2021 following Zimbabwe’s match against Ireland. Taylor tested positive for the stimulant Benzoylecognine, a cocaine metabolite, which is specified as a Substance of Abuse under the Code.

Taylor has accepted a one-month period of ineligibility for the violation under Article 2.1 – the minimum allowed under the Code. Taylor’s period of ineligibility was reduced to one month because he was able to establish that he had ingested the substance out of competition, that it was unrelated to sport performance, and because he is currently undergoing a rehabilitation treatment programme.

"This one-month suspension will run concurrently with the suspension of three and a half years under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code. Mr Taylor will be free to resume his involvement in the game on 28 July 2025," the release said.

Alex Marshall, ICC General Manager – Integrity Unit, said: “Brendan is a former international captain who represented Zimbabwe for 17 years. Over such a long career, he participated in numerous anti-corruption and anti-doping education sessions and knew exactly what his obligations were under the ICC Anti-Corruption and Anti-Doping Codes.

“It is disappointing that a player of his experience chose not to fulfil those obligations, however he has accepted all charges, which has been reflected in the sanction. I would echo Brendan’s message to other players to report approaches as soon as they happen so any corrupt activity can be disrupted at the earliest possible opportunity. We wish Brendan well in his rehabilitation.”

IANS adds:

Taylor, who retired from international cricket in September last year, posted a four-page letter on social media on Monday in which he explained how he was conned into flying to India in October 2019 by a businessman on the pretext of discussing sponsorship details and the potential launch of a Twenty20 tournament in Zimbabwe.

Taylor said the circumstances were such that he accepted the offer to fly to India, claiming he was hard-pressed for money as Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) had not paid salaries for six months. Taylor, who is one of Zimbabwe's best-known cricketers, added that he was tricked into taking cocaine and a video made, which was later used to blackmail him.

The cricketer said that when he returned home, the "stress of what had taken place severely impacted" his mental and physical health.

In his statement, Taylor, who has 6,684 ODI runs from 205 ODIs and is marginally short of Andy Flower's national record of 6,786, said he had been carrying the burden for two years.

"Now that has sadly taken me to some very dark places and had a profound effect on my mental health. I would like to make a statement regarding a finding made by the ICC, which is soon to be released. In late October 2019, I was approached by an Indian businessman requesting that I attend India to discuss sponsorships and the potential launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe and was advised that I would be paid USD 15,000 to make the journey. I can't deny I was a little wary. But the timing was such that we hadn't been paid for six months by Zimbabwe Cricket and it was questionable whether Zimbabwe would be able to continue playing in the international arena. So I made the journey.

"The discussions took place, as he had said, and on our last night in the hotel, the businessman and his colleagues took me for a celebratory dinner. We had drinks and during the course of the evening they openly offered me cocaine, which they themselves engaged in, and I foolishly took the bait. I've gone over it a million times since and still feel sick to my stomach reliving that night and how they played me," said Taylor.

"The following morning, the same men stormed into my hotel room and showed me a video taken of me the night before doing cocaine and told me that if I did not spot fix at international matches for them, the video would be released to the public. With six of these individuals in my hotel room, I was scared for my own safety. I'd fallen for it. I'd willingly walked into a situation that has changed my life forever.

"I was handed the USD 15,000 but was told this was now a 'deposit' for spot-fixing and that an additional USD 20,000 would be paid once the "job" was complete. I took the money so I could get on a plane and leave India. I felt I had no choice at the time because saying no was clearly not an option. All I knew was I had to get out of there.

"When I returned home, the stress of what had taken place severely impacted my mental and physical health. I was a mess. I was diagnosed with shingles and prescribed strong anti­psychotic medication -- amitriptyline.

Taylor said that it took him some time to report the matter to the ICC, adding that he delayed approaching the global governing body for the sport as he felt his family could be in trouble.

"The 'businessman' wanted a return on his investment which I could not and would not give. It took me 4 months to report this offence and interaction to the ICC. I acknowledge this was too long of a time but I thought I could protect everyone and in particular, my family. I approached the ICC on my own terms and I hoped that if I explained my predicament, my genuine fear for our safety and wellbeing, that they would understand the delay.

"Unfortunately, they did not, but I cannot feign ignorance in this regard. I have attended many anti-corruption seminars over the years and we know that time is of the essence when making reports."

Taylor said that he had never been involved in any form of match-fixing, adding that his love for the sport far outweighed any threats thrown in his way.

"I would like to place on record that I have never been involved in any form of match-fixing. I may be many things but I am not a cheat. My love for the beautiful game of cricket far outweighs and surpasses any threats which could be thrown my way. As a result of approaching the ICC, I attended multiple interviews and engagements and was as honest and transparent as I could be during their investigations. That being said, the ICC are taking the decision to impose a multi-year ban on my international cricketing career. I humbly accept this decision and only hope that my story will be used as a means of encouragement for cricketers to report any approaches early."

He said he would be entering a rehabilitation centre on January 25 to get clean and to get "my life back on track."

NNN

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