West Indies allrounder Andre Russell has been banned for one year following a doping whereabouts rule violation.
Russell, who has spent the past two years in the KFC Big Bash League with the Sydney Thunder, appeared to be in tears when the decision was announced at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.
The two-time Twenty20 World Cup winner was revealed to have committed the violation 11 months ago after registering three filing failures in 2015. That constitutes a failed drugs test under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules.
"Mr Russell was found guilty of a doping violation," Hugh Faulkner, chairman of the independent anti-doping tribunal that handed out the punishment, said in a statement.
The 28-year-old Jamaican, who helped the West Indies win their second World T20 title in 2016, will be banned for a year from January 31. It means Russell won't be available to play in the Big Bash again until BBL|08.
News Ltd reported last December that Russell had signed a two-year contract with the Thunder, meaning the BBL|05 champions could be on the look out for an overseas replacement for next summer.
"We are devastated for Andre,” said Sydney Thunder General Manager Nick Cummins in a statement.
"We haven't seen the written judgement, but given the circumstances surrounding the filing failures we thought he had a good chance of being exonerated. We will monitor the appeals process and assess our options."
WADA rules state that athletes across all sports must inform their local anti-doping agencies where they will be for at least one hour each day to facilitate drug tests.
A visibly upset Russell did not comment on the ruling, but his lead attorney, while disappointed his client did not beat the case, took comfort that Russell avoided a maximum two-year ban.
"Relieved it's one year, but not two years. But I genuinely thought given the circumstances and the evidence that was before the panel that he would have been exonerated," Patrick Foster told Reuters.
The attorney has not ruled out Russell lodging an appeal to the Court of arbitration for Sport within the allowed 21-day period.
"Haven't made a decision like that as yet. We have considered it but we wouldn't really consider that seriously until we have had a chance to speak with the client and look at the (written) decision," Foster said.
Russell's ban means he will miss a lucrative year of T20 cricket, including the Indian Premier League, where he plays for the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Sydney Thunder Director of Cricket Mike Hussey told cricket.com.au last month that Russell "been to hell and back" dealing with the anti-doping charge and his recent injury issues.
"I feel for him. He's been going through a really tough time of late with all the 'whereabouts' saga going on and he's been waiting to hear the finding of that hearing,” Hussey said.
"I want him to go away and get better physically but also mentally.
Quick Single: Dre Russ has 'been to hell and back'
"Hopefully get this saga over and behind him, he gets cleared and he can get on living his life and getting back to really enjoying his cricket again.
"He's been to hell and back.
"I have a lot for empathy for him, not as in I know what he's feeling, but I think at times people are too quick to judge him.
"He's gone through a really tough time and I just want him to get better and get his life back on track."