England and Wales Cricket Board drug tests hair of all players in pilot program

Following the drug-related death of one of its players, the Professional Cricketers Association and England and Wales Cricket Board have instituted a pilot program to investigate the possible extent of drug usage amongst its players.

In a BBC article, the aim of the pilot project was stated as “discovering how widely cocaine and cannabis, among other drugs, were used by professionals.”

The cricket players who submitted to the testing were told that their test results would remain confidential, but they would be offered counseling and treatment if any of their tests came back positive.

Why test hair?

Hair testing is considered one of the most accurate and effective methods of finding users of drugs of abuse. Because hair grows as a result of being fed by the bloodstream, the presence of drugs in the bloodstream can result in drug residues being deposited in the hairshaft.

When compared to the more traditional forms of testing (e.g., urine testing) hair samples can detect a longer period of drug use. With urine, most drugs are undetectable if urinalysis is done more than 2-3 days after use. With hair samples, the only time limitation for detecting drug usage is imposed by the length of the donor’s hair. Each ½ inch of head hair provides a 30-day history of drug use. The standard for the industry is to test 1.5 inches, which provides a 90-day history of the donor’s drug use.

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