International Cricket

Leicestershire seamer Wright admits he has been serving nine-month ban for anti-doping offence

Chris Wright, the veteran Leicestershire seamer, has confirmed that he has been serving a nine-month suspension for an anti-doping violation after testing positive for a trace amount of a banned substance.

Wright has not featured for Leicestershire all season, despite signing a new contract with the club last year after pulling out of a move to Sussex. It had been reported that his absence was due to a failed drugs test and the 38-year-old has now released a statement through the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) admitting that he “returned the adverse result” in October.

While it was accepted by the Cricket Regulator and the National Anti-Doping Agency that he had not intentionally taken the substance, Ostarine, which is not performance-enhancing and came from a contaminated food supplement, Wright was unable to avoid a ban. The PCA said it would be lobbying the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to review its stance on trace amounts of banned substances ingested via contamination.

Wright has now returned to training and will be available to play for his county from July 19, due to the backdated nature of his suspension.

“I was shocked to find out that I had tested positive for trace amounts of a banned substance on a single occasion back in October 2023,” Wright said. “I had been using a fruit supplement at the time, purchased from a well-known manufacturer, which had no sports performance-enhancing capability. I disclosed this fully on my doping control form before I provided a sample, as required, that returned the adverse result.

“I was extremely fortunate that with the help of scientific experts, I was able to identify that the supplement was contaminated with Ostarine, a synthetic substance that ought not be in any food product in the UK, and the Cricket Regulator accepted this. There has been no explanation from the supplement manufacturer as to how that came to be and, as the independent panel’s decision in my case shows, I did not intend to take such substance, nor could I have even known the supplement was contaminated with it.

“The panel found that I bore no significant fault and I am pleased this matter has been resolved so that I can resume playing soon, after what has been an extremely difficult and trying time for me and my family. I am back in training and looking forward to my full return.

“I would like to thank the PCA for their support during the period of my suspension as this matter was resolved. Their help, support and guidance has been invaluable. I would also like to thank Leicestershire CCC, in particular Claude Henderson and Alfonso Thomas, for their support during this difficult period. They have been extremely patient and supportive during the whole process and have been keen to get me back playing as soon as possible. Lastly, I want to thank my family. Their love and positivity has helped me immensely during what has also been a really challenging time for them. I will always be grateful.”

Ian Thomas, PCA managing director of member services, said the players’ union was concerned at the lack of a threshold for cases “when it is clear there is no intent or scientific evidence to show athletes have genuinely taken banned substances” and would work with the World Players’ Association to argue for a change in WADA’s rules.

“We are pleased Chris is now back in training and able to continue his career from July 19,” Thomas said. “Sadly, Chris has been victim of a contamination case. It acts as a reminder to all our members of the danger of supplement usage. This could have prematurely ended Chris’ professional playing career.

“The stress on Chris and his family’s lives has been extreme since he was suspended in October 2023 and the PCA has worked closely with him and his legal team, in particular Craig Harris, to achieve the best possible outcome and ultimately, save his career.

“The PCA is extremely concerned at the lack of thresholds of banned substances, such as Ostarine in this case, providing a positive test, when it is clear there is no intent or scientific evidence to show athletes have genuinely taken banned substances. We are extremely concerned that these substances remain a risk when contaminating supplement or food produce.

“The PCA is working with the World Players’ Association in lobbying WADA for a full review on this.

“WADA play a vital role in ensuring a clean sport with zero tolerance to performance-enhancing drug usage. However, it is not fair or reasonable to place innocent athletes on suspensions and lengthy bans, when a trace amount of a substance confirms athletes are victims of contamination.”

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