IPL 2021: "People start to question if I am using drugs" - Andre Russell recalls his darkest phase for KKR

KKR star Andre Russell
KKR star Andre Russell
Modified 01 May 2021

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) all-rounder Andre Russell has reminisced about one of the most gloomy phases of his career.

In January 2017, the Jamaican was banned for 12 months for a whereabouts clause violation by an anti-doping panel in Kingston. Andre Russell told the tribunal that he wasn't negligent and even maintained his stance in the future, but to no avail.

In a video uploaded by KKR on its YouTube channel, Andre Russell recalled his feelings on receiving such a blow at the peak of his career. The Jamaican also remembered how people suspected him of using drugs because of his unparalleled athleticism.

"...then 2017 was one of the worst years of my career. You know, getting banned [while] being on the top of my game, hitting the ball cleaner than ever. People [were] trying to prove a point because I wasn't hiding from anyone. I was doing a test everywhere I played. Because with me hitting the ball over 100 meters, bowling 140 plus from a short run, people start to question if I am using drugs or whatever. And I used to know everything to do in terms of a drug test. I knew how to release and move the label, no one had to show me anything. It was like putting on a shoe," said Andre Russell.

Now a key member of the franchise, Andre Russell was just cementing his feet in the KKR set up in 2017. He scored 188 runs across 8 innings at a strike rate of 164.91 in IPL 2016 and coupled it with a whopping 15 wickets at an average of 19.40.

It was perhaps these returns that prompted the KKR management to retain Andre Russell despite the major jolt to his image.

"It is such a wicked world we live in" - Andre Russell

KKR's Andre Russell (PC: IPL)

Andre Russell also spoke about some of his experiences in court. He alleged perjury and claimed that a woman blatantly lied about him in court, pushing the 33-year-old to an 'outburst'.

"And they hit me, hit me hard. It was crazy. They went again and they appealed the case for two years and that's when the government and other people got involved. People said they have met me and spoke to me when that was the first time I was seeing those people. And it's such a wicked world we live in. Because when someone takes the Bible and says "I swear....", I say ok, there's no way this woman or man will lie because I respect the Bible," said Andre Russell.
"[She] looked dead in my eye and said that she sat down with me and discussed the rules and regulations about JADCO (Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission). And I gave an outburst in court. I said, 'Me? I have never seen you in my life'. And I wasn't lying. I had never seen that woman," he added.

It was widely reported that Andre Russell went into a major slump after his ban was confirmed. Further in the video, he recalled how he was judged by compatriots on the street and how he couldn't even bring himself to watch cricket anymore.

"[I wanted to] just to get away from my city... because when I drove through, people looked at me like 'Oh he's taking drugs'. Because a lot of people don't get things. I wasn't feeling pain anywhere but I couldn't play the game... like every time it kicked in... I wasn't even watching cricket. I would just ask the score. I tried to watch a few KKR games and it was just so hard," remarked Andre Russell.

However, all this changed in the months to come. Andre Russell reportedly contacted Usain Bolt's sports therapist Everal Edwards, worked on his strengths, returned to an even better shape than before, and made a resounding comeback for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

In 2018, he struck 316 runs at 184.80 and ratcheted it up in 2019 to a career-best performance. His 510 runs that year, coming at an average and strike rate of 56.67 and 204.82 respectively, stamped his authority as one of the fiercest all-rounders in T20 cricket. The rest, as they say, is history.

Published 01 May 2021
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