Brendan Taylor failed to tell truth about spot-fixing plot, destroyed evidence and tested positive for cocaine

Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor’s ban from cricket has been confirmed as it emerged he failed to tell the whole truth about an approach to match-fix, destroyed potential evidence and tested positive for cocaine while under investigation.

In a judgment published four days after he issued a pre-emptive statement revealing he was facing a “multi-year suspension”, it was announced that Taylor had accepted a ban of three-and-a-half years over what he claimed was a plot to blackmail him using footage of him taking the drug.

The full written decision released by the International Cricket Council undermined the 35 year-old’s 1,000-word account, showing that he had not only failed to report the matter immediately but that, when he eventually did so, he initially “made no mention of any discussion around corruption with” his alleged blackmailer.

It revealed how he had subsequently deleted all messages between him and someone he described as an “Indian businessman” without authorisation from investigators, depriving them of the ability to review such messages.

And it said he even still had the $15,000 (£11,187) he was given to spot-fix back in 2019, despite him declaring in his statement he had only taken the money at the time so he could “get out of there”.

The judgment separately revealed Taylor had tested positive for Benzoylecognine, a cocaine metabolite, in September after what was one of his final appearances for Zimbabwe before he retired.

Taylor said in his own statement he was checking himself into a rehabilitation centre “to get clean and to get my life back on track”.

He added: “I have attended many anti-corruption seminars over the years and we know that time is of the essence when making reports.

“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.”

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.”

Brendan Taylor’s original statement in full

“I’ve been carrying a burden for over two years now that has sadly taken me to some very dark places and had a profound effect on my mental health. And I’ve only recently managed to start sharing my story with close friends and family and receive the love and support I guess I was too ashamed and frightened to seek in the first place.

“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.

“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.

“I was cornered. And 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’ once 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 anti-psychotic medication – amitriptyline.

“The ‘businessman’ wanted a return on his investment which I could not and would not give. It took me four 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 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.

“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. Inside and outside I was beating myself up and I still wish I had sought support and advice earlier for a multitude of reasons.

“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.

“I will admit that the past two years have been incredibly challenging, both personally and professionally and it is from absolute rock bottom that I am trying to climb out of this mess I made.

“My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of me and it is clear to me now that I have a much bigger problem which for some time has needed addressing.

“And so, I would like to let you know that on Tuesday the 25th of January I am checking into a rehabilitation centre to get clean and to get my life back on track. I have to tell my story now because I know people will want to hear from me. To try to understand what led to this point. But for many weeks I will be away and trying to get better.

“I owe it to myself and to my family to get clean and to put them first. I have let a substance take control of me and impair my vision, my morals and my values and it is time that I prioritise what really matters.

“I also hope my story inspires someone who hears it, to get the help that they need. I had not realized that coming forward and talking would give me so much relief from the hell I have found myself in four years. Drugs and narcotics do not discriminate and it took all that I have to admit that I have a problem.

“To end I need to let you know I am sorry for those I have hurt. I am sorry for those I have let down.

“I would like to thank my family, my friends and my supporters for always being there. I have learned the true meaning of loyalty.

“The greatest honor that can be bestowed, is to captain and represent ones [sic] country and for this, I am eternally grateful.

“I’m also grateful for what this experience has taught me. I’m grateful for my four beautiful children, my loving and supportive wife, my health and the clarity I now have to want to be a better version of myself.”

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