Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor blackmailed to fix cricket matches
Zimbabwe’s former cricket captain Brendan Taylor has revealed the extent of a harrowing blackmail plot he faced after businessmen captured videos of him using cocaine as part of a potential match-fixing scandal.
Taylor, 35, has admitted today that he was blackmailed into participating in spot-fixing by a group of so-called businessmen he met in October 2019 – and is now staring down the course of a multi-year ban on his international career.
He has anticipated an International Cricket Council announcement by giving his own account of the alleged corruption, saying he took a $15,000 (£11,113) ‘deposit’ intended to facilitate spot-fixing after he had flown to India for a meeting.
These talks, Taylor was supposed, would focus on the launch of a new Twenty20 competition in Zimbabwe. However, at the end of the trip, and after a meal to celebrate the deal, he accepted an offer to use cocaine with his hosts.
The next morning, the alleged businessmen stormed his hotel room, equipped with videos of him participating in the illegal activities. In his emotional, lengthy statement on social media, Taylor admitted it took “too long” to report the incident.
He is adamant that he did not resolve it on the spot, but that it took him four months to raise the matter with the ICC. Taylor has also revealed that he will be checking into a rehab center starting tomorrow, in an effort to address substance abuse issues.
Former Zimbabwean captain Brendan Taylor suspended over alleged blackmail plot
“I’ve been carrying a burden for over two years now that has unfortunately taken me to some very dark places and has had a profound effect on my mental health,” he wrote.
And I’ve only recently been able to share my story with close friends and family and receive the love and support I think I was too embarrassed and afraid to seek in the first place.
“In late October 2019, I was approached by an Indian businessman with a request to come to India to discuss sponsorship and the possible launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe and was advised that I would be paid $15,000 to make the trip.
“I can’t deny that I was a little wary. But the timing was such that we had not been paid by Zimbabwe cricket for six months and the question was whether Zimbabwe could continue to play in the international arena. So I made the journey.
“The talks took place, as he had said, and on our last night at the hotel, the businessman and his colleagues took me to a celebratory dinner.
Taylor, 35, was blackmailed into participating in spot-fixing by a group of so-called businessmen
“We had a drink and during the evening they openly offered me cocaine, which they were doing themselves, and I foolishly took the bait.
“I’ve gone over it a million times since then and I still feel sick reliving that night and how they played me.
“The next morning, the same men burst into my hotel room and showed me a video that was made of me the night before I took cocaine and told me that if I wasn’t on the scene at international matches for them, the video would be released.” to the public.
‘I was cornered. And with six of these people in my hotel room, I was afraid for my own safety. I had fallen for it. I had willingly walked into a situation that changed my life forever.
I was handed the $15,000 but was told this was now a “deposit” for spot fixing and another $20,000 would be paid once the “job” was completed. I took the money so I could get on a plane and leave India.
In a lengthy statement, Taylor said he took cocaine with him on a trip, taking photos to coerce him
It is unknown what sanctions Taylor (pictured next to his wife, Kelly Anne) will now face
‘I felt at that moment that I had no choice, because saying no was clearly not an option. All I knew was that I had to get out of there.
“When I got home, the stress of what had happened had a major impact on my mental and physical health. I was a mess. I was diagnosed with shingles and prescribed a strong antipsychotic medication – amitriptyline.
“The ‘businessman’ wanted a return on his investment that I could not and would not give. It took me four months to report this violation and interaction to the ICC.
“I admit this was too long a time, but I thought I could protect everyone, especially my family. I approached the ICC on my own terms and hoped that if I explained my predicament, my genuine fear for our safety and well-being, they would understand the delay.
‘Unfortunately they didn’t, but I cannot feign ignorance in this regard. I’ve attended many anti-corruption seminars over the years and we know that time is of the essence in reporting.
“I would like to say that I have never been involved in any form of match fixing. I can be many things, but I am not an impostor. My love for the beautiful game of cricket far outweighs and exceeds any threats that can be thrown my way.
“As a result of approaching the ICC, I attended multiple interviews and assignments and was as honest and transparent as I could be during their investigations. I beat myself up inside and out and still wish I had sought support and advice sooner for all sorts of reasons.
That said, the ICC is making 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 an encouragement to cricketers to report any approaches early.
“I have to admit that the past two years have been incredibly challenging, both personally and professionally, and it’s from an all-time low that I’m trying to climb out of this mess I’ve made.
“My family and friends have been incredibly supportive and it is now clear to me that I have a much bigger problem that has been needing to be addressed for a while.
It took him four months to report the incident, which is now under investigation by the ICC
“And so I want to let you know that on Tuesday, January 25, I’m going to a rehab center to get clean and get my life back on track.
“I have to tell my story now because I know people want to hear from me. To try to understand what led to this point. But for many weeks I will be gone and trying to get better.
“I owe it to myself and my family to get clean and put them first. I’ve let a substance take control of me and affect my vision, my morals and my values and it’s time for me to prioritize what really matters.
“I also hope that my story inspires someone who hears it to get the help they need. I hadn’t realized that coming forward and talking would give me so much relief from the hell I’ve found in four years. Drugs and narcotics do not discriminate and it cost me everything to admit I have a problem.
“In closing, I must let you know that I am sorry for those I have hurt. I’m sorry for those I’ve let down.
Taylor has also announced that he plans to enter rehab to deal with substance abuse issues
“I want to thank my family, my friends and my supporters for always being there. I have learned the true meaning of loyalty.
‘The greatest honor that can be bestowed is captain and representative’ [sic] country and for this I am eternally grateful.
“I am also grateful for what this experience has taught me. I am grateful for my four beautiful children, my loving and supportive wife, my health and the clarity I now have to want to be a better version of myself.”
The ICC has yet to confirm what sanctions Taylor, who retired from international cricket in September after a 17-year career, could face.
Their anti-corruption code prohibits players from taking bribes to influence matches, and says approaches must be reported “without undue delay.”