SUPPORT Banned Jamaica and West Indies all rounder Andre Russell says he was not surprised by the Kolkata Knight Riders’ decision to retain his services for this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) competition. Russell received a one-year ban from the Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel last month after violating the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) whereabouts rules. The 28-year-old Russell failed to file his whereabouts on three occasions in 2015, akin to a failed drug test under WADA guidelines, and is barred from playing both international and domestic cricket until January 31 next year. Russell told The Gleaner in an exclusive interview yesterday that the Knight Riders have decided to retain his services. “It just goes to show that once you have been doing well for a team and you build a relationship, you become a part of a family,” said Russell. “They have retained me and I am happy for that, and I am just looking forward for 2018. “Kolkata Knight Riders … for the past three years, I have been playing my cricket there, I have been performing well for them over that period of time,” said Russell. He added that he has received a lot of support from the Knight Riders owner and its chief executive during these tough times. “Everyone came together and said that going through these worrying times, they are going to make me comfortable and get this out of my head, so that I can relax, train and do what I want to do. (I can) have a good time with my family for this one year and make sure that when I come, I am fully fit and ready to roll,” Russell said. However, he noted that he is not sure whether he would be attending any games in the IPL this year. “It is not finalised yet because there are a lot of things that I can’t do when it comes to my ban; it’s hard because I am not even allowed to go into the changing rooms, but we will see what happens when it gets to that time,” Russell said. The IPL runs from April 5 to May 21.