Perth BBL cricket star axed after positive drug test furore

Pictured here, English batter Laurie Evans in action for the Perth Scorchers in the BBL.
Laurie Evans' BBL contract with the Perth Scorchers has been terminated after he tested positive for a banned substance. Pic: Getty

The Perth Scorchers have ripped up the contract for last season's Big Bash League (BBL) hero Laurie Evans after the player tested positive for a banned substance. The English batter - who was man of the match as the Scorchers won last season's BBL final - confirmed that he tested positive for an illegal substance during this northern hemisphere summer.

On Tuesday, the Scorchers revealed that the franchise and the player had "decided to mutually terminate" the 35-year-old's contract, leaving them scrambling to find a replacement player ahead of the new season, which begins in just three weeks.

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"The club is disappointed to learn of Evans’ positive anti-doping test result relating to a sample provided in August 2022," a Perth Scorchers statement read on Tuesday.

"Due to the circumstances the Scorchers, and Laurie and his management have decided to mutually terminate his contract for the 2022-23 KFC Big Bash League season. The club will explore its options to source a replacement player for the tournament."

The English batter was set to be Perth's first drat pick as a retention player for the upcoming season, with the 35-year-old insisting he had no idea what caused the positive result.

Evans, who now specialises in the T20 format, confirmed the unfortunate news via a statement carried by the Professional Cricketers' Association.

"I was shocked to be told that an anti-doping sample I provided in August 2022 tested positive for trace amounts of a banned substance," he wrote.

"I believe passionately in clean sport and I have never taken any banned substances. I do not know what caused the positive test, but my team and I are investigating how this could have happened and I am doing everything possible to find out.

"Due to the confidentiality of the process, I cannot say any more at this stage, but I would like to thank my family for supporting me at this very distressing time."

Seen here, Perth Scorchers batter Laurie Evans plays a shot in the Big Bash League final against the Sydney Sixers at Marvel Stadium in 2022.
Perth Scorchers batter Laurie Evans plays a shot in the Big Bash League final against the Sydney Sixers at Marvel Stadium in 2022. Pic: Getty

Laurie Evans faces potentially big ban

Evans, who has played T20 in seven countries in the last five years, played 15 matches for the Scorchers last season scoring 361 runs at a strike-rate of 144.40. Surrey, Evans' home county, have also acknowledged the result of the test. Perth's response to cut ties with Evans is perhaps not surprising given how long he could be suspended for if found guilty.

The England and Wales Cricket Board's anti-doping code suggests a relatively hard line on positive tests, noting in section 2.1 that "it is each cricketer's personal duty to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his/her body. A cricketer is responsible for any prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers found to be present in his/her sample".

A further explanatory note in the code adds: "For the avoidance of doubt ... lack of intent, fault, negligence or knowledge shall not be a defence".

The highest penalty for a doping violation, should the case be proven and no mitigation successfully argued, is a two-year ban.

Evans' absence from the Perth side is set to come as a significant blow for the Scorchers given they were the only team not to pick up a platinum-level player in the draft.

They have the opportunity to sign a replacement player under Big Bash rules, however one of Evans' dynamic ability is perhaps not readily available.

Elsewhere, Hobart have signed England's Zak Crawley as a replacement player for Pakistan star Shadab Khan for the second half of the BBL season.

Shadab will start the season with the Hurricanes, before flying home for a one-day series against New Zealand which begins on January 11.

with AAP

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