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'Cleared' Scotland cricketer Blain criticises delay in racism report

Former Scotland cricket international John Blain has criticised delays to the publication of a report that he says clears him of racism.

John Blain says he was told by Cricket Scotland's then-chief executive Pete Fitzboydon in January that the allegations against him were unfounded

It followed claims - some made by all-time leading wicket-taker Majid Haq - of racism and discrimination.

Cricket Scotland had appointed an independent legal team who specialise in discrimination to carry out the review.

Blain, one of Scotland's all-time leading wicket-takers, says he was asked to remain quiet until the complainants had been informed of the outcome.

But he now feels that five months is too long to wait - and has called for an inquiry into the actions of the sport's governing body.

Blain, who was capped 118 times for his country, said he believed that by not publishing the report sooner, Cricket Scotland was "running scared".

"My life has been on hold for too long," he added.

Blain has now made public the letter which he says Cricket Scotland sent him.

In it, former CEO Pete Fitzboydon says: "Further to recent discussion I write to confirm the conclusion of the ongoing investigation into allegations made against you.

"As advised, these allegations have not been founded, and there is not any case to answer, and so this matter is now considered closed."

Cricket Scotland said it had "engaged extensively with all parties throughout a complex, challenging and emotive independent investigative process".

It added: "This has included offering appropriate support to both complainants and respondents.

"We will comment further upon the conclusion of the independent investigative process, whilst continuing to offer support to all those involved."

Majid Haq represented Scotland on more than 200 occasions but did not play again after being sent home from the 2015 World Cup.

At the time he hinted he felt victimised on grounds of race.

His former Scotland teammate Qasim Sheikh also spoke openly about being racially abused.

In July 2022, a report commissioned by funding body SportScotland found that there was evidence of institutional racism in Scottish cricket.

The "Changing the Boundaries" review highlighted 448 examples.

Cricket Scotland's entire board resigned a day ahead of the report's publication.

'Unjust verdict'

Following a separate investigation by the English cricket's ruling body the ECB in March 2023, John Blain was one of six players found guilty of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

It followed accusations made by former England international Azeem Rafiq.

Blain, Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan, Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Gale and Richard Pyrah were all found to have used racist slurs.

They were fined sums of between £2,500 sand £6,000.

John Blain said: "The fact that the year-long Scottish investigation has completely exonerated me fatally undermines the ECB process and must force them to reconsider their unjust verdict and clear my name."

An ECB spokesperson said the Cricket Discipline Commission had upheld the charge against John Blain for using racist language at Yorkshire in or around 2010 and 2011 after considering all the evidence before it.

This included John Blain's defence "and a number of supporting witness statements filed by him (through his then legal team) before he withdrew from the process".

The spokesperson added: "What happens in the future is now a matter for the Cricket Regulator. They are aware of Mr Blain’s statement."

Aamer Anwar, the lawyer representing Majid Haq and Qasim Sheikh, said both former players "remain victims of racism who continue to be abused, vilified and excluded for daring to speak out. Sadly I suspect that will now increase."

He added: "It was galling for my clients to see the huge camaraderie and support Mr.Blain received in comparison to the abject silence from Scottish cricket, when Majid and Qasim placed their heads above the parapet.

"My clients were subjected to all the various versions of racism that can be practiced but are yet to see any real action in response.

"Cricket Scotland hoped this matter would simply go away, it will not, as they will see in the coming days."