Warwickshire wicketkeeper Keith Piper has escaped severe punishment from the England & Wales Cricket Board after testing positive for cannabis.
Although the findings of the ECB disciplinary panel will not be published until later today, The Birmingham Post understands that Piper is not facing an extended suspension from the game. That means that his career as a player may not be over and that he may have a future as a coach.
At a hearing in London that stretched late into the night, the ECB were presented by Piper's defence team with a three page document providing mitigating circumstances to explain his positive sample.
The document detailed incidents from throughout Piper's life and career. It argued that the game had failed the player by declining to act earlier to offer him help and that it would be cruel to now punish a man in need.
It was also pointed out that the International Cricket Council do not currently classify cannabis among their list of banned substances.
The sentence marks a watershed moment in cricket. By taking a sympathetic rather than punitive view towards Piper, the ECB have acknowledged that they have a duty of care towards players in need. It is, perhaps, also an acknowledgment that recreational drugs are an issue in modern society.
The onus is now on Warwickshire to decide what action to take against Piper. They set themselves a tough precedent over the case of Graham Wagg, stressing their 'zero tolerance' towards all drug taking. But to dismiss Piper, or indeed to ban him from the ground, would be contrary to the spirit of the ECB's panel.
If Warwickshire fail to act decisively, however, they face accusations of hypocrisy after acting so harshly against Wagg.