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England batsman Alex Hales is currently serving a 21-day ban after he tested positive for a recreational drug in recent weeks.
This comes after Hales took a break from the ongoing county season, where he represents Nottinghamshire, “for personal reasons”.
Hales was included in England’s preliminary World Cup squad and while it is unknown whether he will keep his place in the team after this, it should be noted that England can make changes their side without permission from the International Cricket Council (ICC) until May 23.
According to The Guardian as quoted by ESPNcricinfo, Hales’ ban stems from the fact that this is the second time he has violated the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) recreational drugs policy in his career.
It is also believed that the England selectors were unaware of the positive test when selecting the preliminary World Cup squad.
“We have a duty of confidentiality, therefore we are unable to provide any further comment,” an ECB spokesman said.
It is understood that the recreational drug was detected in Hales’ system when he underwent a routine hair-follicle test, which is something all professional cricketers and centrally contracted women’s players have to undergo at the start and end of every season.
The policy was implemented after the death of Surrey cricketer Tom Maynard.
For first time offences, players will be offered advice and support, and only a few people will be informed, including the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) director of development and welfare, the ECB’s anti-doping and recreational drugs manager, and the chief medical officers of the ECB and county involved.
A second offence can lead to a three-week ban and a fine of five percent of the player’s annual salary.
Furthermore, the players’ county is alerted, along with ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, and PCA chief executive David Leatherdale.
If a third violation occurs, the player can be dismissed.
For Hales, the positive test is another black mark on his record as he was banned for six white-ball games, with four being suspended, and fined £17,500 by the ECB for his involvement in the brawl outside a nightclub in Bristol that led to England all-rounder Ben Stokes being arrested and subsequently being found not guilty of affray.