‘I fell for it’ – Brendan Taylor faces ‘multi-year ban’ over bribery, cocaine shame

HARARE  – Former Zimbabwean cricket captain Brendan Taylor has foreshadowed a “multi-year” ban from the ICC for a four-month delay in reporting a match-fixing approach.

The 35-year-old played 34 Tests, 202 One-Day Internationals and 45 T20 Internationals for Zimbabwe from 2004 to 2021.

In a lengthy Twitter post Taylor released a searingly honest statement admitting an approach from an Indian businessman in 2019 for an initial US$15,000 fee, which caused his life to unravel.

However he denied any involvement of spot match fixing at any time during his cricket career.

“To my friends, family, supporters and wider public,” the statement read.

“I’ve been carrying a burden for over two years now that has sadly taken me to some very dark places and had a profound effect on my mental health.

“And I’ve only recently managed to start sharing my story with close friends and family and receive the love and support I guess I was too ashamed and frightened to seek in the first place.

“This may not make for comfortable reading but I would like to make a statement regarding a finding made by the ICC, which is soon to be released.

“In late October 2019, I was approached by an Indian businessman requesting that I attend India to discuss sponsorships and the potential launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe and was advised that I would be paid US$15,000 to make the journey.

“I can’t deny that I was a little wary. But the timing was such that we hadn’t been paid for six months by Zimbabwe Cricket and it was questionable whether Zimbabwe would be able to continue playing in the international arena.

“So I made the journey. The discussions took place, as he had said, and on our last night in the hotel, the businessman and his colleagues took me for a celebratory dinner.

“We had drinks and during the course of the evening they openly offered me cocaine, which they themselves engaged in, and I foolishly took the bait. I’ve gone over it a million times since and still feel sick to my stomach reliving that night and how they played me.

“The following morning, the same men stormed into my hotel room and showed me a video of me the night before doing cocaine and told me that if I did not spot fix at international matches for them, the video would be released to the public.

“I was concerned. And with six of these individuals in my hotel room, I was scared for my own safety. I’d fallen for it. I’d willingly walked into a situation that has changed my life forever.

“I was handed the US$15,000 but was told this was now a ‘deposit’ for spot match fixing and that an additional US$20,000 would be paid once the “job” was complete. I took the money so I could get on a plane and leave India. I felt I had no choice at the time because saying no was clearly not an option. All I knew was I had to get out of there.

“When I returned home, the stress of what had taken place severely impacted my mental and physical health. I was a mess. I was diagnosed with shingles and prescribed strong antipsychotic medication – maitriptyline.

“The ‘businessman’ wanted a return on his investment which I could not and would not give. It took me four months to report this offence and interaction to the ICC. I acknowledge this was too long of a time but I thought I could protect everyone and in particular, my family.

“I approached the ICC on my own terms and I hoped that if I explained my predicament, my genuine fear for our safety and wellbeing, that they would understand the delay.

“Unfortunately, they did not, but I cannot feign ignorance in this regard. I have attended many anti-corruption seminars over the years and we know that time is of the essence when making reports.

“I would like to place on record that I have never been involved in any form of match-fixing. I may be many things but I am not a cheat. My love for the beautiful game of cricket far outweighs and surpasses any threats which could be thrown my way.

“As a result of approaching the ICC I attended multiple interviews and engagements and was honest and transparent as I could be during their investigations. Inside and outside I was beating myself up and I still wish I had sought support and advice earlier for a multitude of reasons.

“That being said, the ICC are taking the decision to impose a multi-year ban on my international cricket career. I humbly accept this decision and only hope that my story will be used as a means of encouragement for cricketers to report any approaches early.

“I will admit that the past two years have been incredibly challenging, both personally and professionally and it is from absolute rock bottom that I am trying to climb out of the mess I made.

“My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of me and it is clear to me now that I have a much bigger problem which for some time has needed addressing.

“And so, I would also like to let you know that on Tuesday the 25th of January I am checking into a rehabilitation centre to get clean and try get my life back on track. I have to tell my story now because I know people will want to hear from me. To try and understand what led to this point. But for many weeks I will be away and trying to get better.

“I owe it to myself and to my family to get clean and to put them first. I have let substance take control of me and impair my vision, my morals and my values and it is time that I prioritise what really matters.

“I also hope my story inspires someone who hears it, to get help that they need. I had not realised that coming forward and talking would give me so much relief from the hell I have found myself in for years. Drugs and narcotics do not discriminate and it took all that I have to admit that I have a problem.

“To end I need to let you know I am sorry for those I have hurt. I am sorry for those I have let down.

“I would like to thank my family, my friends, and my supporters for always being there. I have learnt the true meaning of loyalty.

“The greatest honour that can be bestowed, is to captain and represent ones country and for this, I am eternally grateful.

“I am also grateful for what this experience has taught me. I am grateful for my four beautiful children, my loving supportive wife, my health and the clarity I now have to want to be a better version of myself.”

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