Tonito Willett & Runako Morton Head Back to Court on Thursday

Willett is an all rounder for the Leeward Islands while Morton, though a Nevisian by birth and up to last year, a Leeward Islands player, was at the time, a representative of the Trinidadian team. Morton is married to a native of Trinidad and currently resides there.

The two are scheduled to return to court on Thursday 17th March, after being released on bail of T$100,000 each, a few days ago.

According to the president of the West Indies Players Association, WIPA, Mr. Dinanath Ramnarine, the two players, will receive assistance from the association for their legal expenses.

According to a report in the Guardian Media in Trinidad, Ramnarine said the Association had obtained the services of attorney Sushilla Jagoonanan to represent Willett while Morton’s family had already appointed Owen Hinds Jr. before WIPA had even heard about the arrest. Both the T&T and Leeward Islands Cricket Boards have also offered to lend their support though the extent of their involvement is not yet known.

Ramnarine told the media he was deeply disappointed in the players’ conduct, which he felt would have serious ramifications for the sport of cricket. “WIPA wants the best for our players but at the same time we want them to honour their obligations and act in accordance with our guidelines. It is critical for us not to condone these kinds of actions,” he said. “It’s a very unfortunate situation, everything that has happened. It does not affect Mr. Morton and Mr. Willet alone. It affects the whole integrity of the game.”

The players will also be reprimanded by their respective boards for leaving the Cascadia Hotel in St Ann’s after their curfew during T&T and the Leeward’s match at the Queen’s Park Oval. Ramnarine said while Morton and Willett would not be speaking to the media, they both wished to apologize for the negative attention their arrests had brought to the sport. “We have been in close contact with their families and both men have expressed deep regret for the unfortunate incident and the embarrassment and hurt it has caused their teammates, their country, their families and cricket fans throughout the world.”

He added that it was WIPA’s responsibility to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future by educating players about drug-related issues. Between 125 and 150 of the region’s cricketers have taken part in such programs and while some drug testing is done at regional level, it is not compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s standards. “We can’t underestimate the need to educate our players. It’s something that we have been doing, but I would say that we have not been doing it enough. Given the resources we have, it has been a difficult challenge.”

 

(Parts of this article were incorporated from the Guardian Media, Trinidad).


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