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A former Zimbabwean cricket captain has revealed that he was the target of a match-fixing and bribery plot.
Brendan Taylor - who played 34 Test matches, 202 ODIs and 45 T20s for his country in a career spanning 17 years - has released a shocking statement via social media where he admits he became the subject of a blackmail scheme after using cocaine and taking a $15,000 bribe from an Indian businessman.
It's understood the International Cricket Council (ICC) have been investigating the scandal and have now taken appropriate action against the 35-year-old.
"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," the statement read.
"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."
To my family, friends and supporters. Here is my full statement. Thank you! pic.twitter.com/sVCckD4PMV- Brendan Taylor (@BrendanTaylor86) January 24, 2022
Taylor went on to explain that he was approached by an Indian businessman in October of 2019 during period of time which coincided with the Zimbabwean team not receiving their salaries for the past six months.
The batsman admits he was "wary" of the businessman's requests, who claimed he wanted to "discuss sponsorships and the potential launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe and was advised that I would be paid USD$15 000 for the journey".
Taylor went on the trip, admitting he "still feels sick to my stomach" because he "foolishly took the bait" and engaged in cocaine use at a celebratory dinner.
Unfortunately for him, he was filmed doing it.
"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," Taylor added.
"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 USD$15,000 but was told this was now a 'deposit' for spot match fixing and that an additional USD$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."
Taylor admits he was "played" by the set of businessmen, but still chose not to report the incident to the ICC until four months later - a move which has now landed him in hot water with the sport's governing body.
"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," Taylor said.
"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."
Taylor now awaits his fate, concluding his statement by saying he has checked into a rehabilitation centre to get his life "back on track".
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