LONDON (AP) — The death of a promising English cricketer has highlighted concerns about the use of recreational drugs by athletes and whether testing in the sport is rigorous enough.
Nine months after Tom Maynard's body was found on a London rail track, a coroner's report presented Tuesday at an inquest showed that he had cocaine and ecstasy in his system. The 23-year-old batsman suffered multiple injuries caused by the impact of a train and from touching a live electric railway line after coming onto the track near Wimbledon Park station at 5 a.m. An hour earlier, Maynard had fled his car after being stopped by police at the end of a night of heavy drinking with fellow cricketers in a pub and nightclub in the capital.
A week before his death, Maynard was disciplined by his county cricket club, Surrey, after being injured in an alcohol-related incident. Post-mortem tests indicated that Maynard might have been a daily user of drugs in the three and half months before his death.
After a jury at Westminster Coroner's Court ruled that Maynard's death was accidental, the coroner called for more steps to be taken by sports clubs to identify drug users, including the analysis of hair samples.
Surrey teammate Jade Dernbach, who was one of the last people to see Maynard alive, told the hearing that some players might only be drug tested once a year. Now, the England and Wales Cricket Board is taking action to clamp down on drug taking.
"While the ECB accepts that recreational drug use is a part of modern society, we do not condone it and will take all reasonable steps to prevent its use within the game," the ECB said in a joint statement with Surrey. "We also believe we have a responsibility to educate all our players and are committed to supporting any player who needs help in this area."
The ECB is developing an out-of-competition testing program to encompass recreational drugs, having previously focused on combatting the use of performance enhancers. No more than 200 tests are conducted each year on county cricket players in England. Last year one player — Abdur Rehman of Somerset — tested positive for cannabis following an in-competition test.
"The very rare incidence of positive results suggests that cricket has no more of a problem in this regard than society as a whole," the Professional Cricketers' Association said. Maynard's parents issued a statement saying they hope the findings of the inquest "do not define our son," who had been on tour with England's second-string Lions squad in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at the start of 2012.
"The fact that so very many people thought the world of him is what defines him as a person," the statement said.