Rafiq has ‘hit rock bottom’ as Gough shares painful impact of racism case

Former England and Yorkshire bowler Darren Gough has spoken passionately about the ongoing racism case involving his friend Azeem Rafiq and the effect it has had on him.

Rafiq first went public with his allegations against Yorkshire over a year ago, prompting the county to commission an independent review into his claims.

Yorkshire have since refused to publish a copy of the resulting report, but have admitted that Rafiq suffered "racial harassment and bullying" during in his time at the club.

However, the county recently said they were "pleased" to announce that none of their current employees, players or executives would face any disciplinary action, despite several senior figures from the time of the accusations still involved at the club.

Speaking on talkSPORT about the case, Gough revealed the immense toll it has taken on Rafiq.

He stated that he calls Rafiq regularly to check in on his wellbeing as the case has left him at "rock bottom".

"I speak to Azeem on a regular basis, I'm friends with him and I call him [to check on his] wellbeing because I know what he's been through," Gough said.

"Honestly, he has hit rock bottom time and time again in this and every time I speak to him he gets emotional.

"I try to stay away from what's going on [at Yorkshire], but I call him as a friend to ask how he is because I know he had a lot of suicidal thoughts.

"I've had two close friends in the last 12 months that have took their own lives so I understand and I've been calling him on a regular basis just to make sure he's okay because this has taken a lot out of him."

Gough was also critical of Yorkshire, the ECB and the PCA over their handling of the case, adding: "You have to look at what Rafiq's been through since 2017 when he first filed a complaint for bullying.

"He's had to then deal with this case for 18 months, denial after denial after denial. They got an independent panel together which, when I look at it, wasn't very independent at all.

"Then Yorkshire marked their own homework and released bits of it, admitting 'inappropriate behaviour' but classing racism as 'banter'.

"It's just been dealt with [poorly] by Yorkshire County Cricket club and there's been mistakes from the PCA and the ECB and it's led to this."

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