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IPL spot fixing report puts CSK in a fix

MUMBAI: With the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee report indicting Gurunath Meiyappan, questions have been raised on whether the IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings should be banned.

The committee also opined that if the allegations of betting and/or spot fixing/match fixing can be proved, appropriate action should be taken against Rajasthan Royals’ stakeholder Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty as well as the whole franchise.

Formed by the Supreme Court to inquire into spot fixing and illegal betting in the last year’s edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Mudgal committee report has strongly recommended enacting a substantive law that makes all forms of manipulation of sports, corruption and malpractices a criminal offence.

The report also notes that Meiyappan was the face of the Chennai franchise. The committee, however, said that it is not in a position to render any conclusive finding as to whether Meiyappan was involved in match fixing or spot fixing.

Headed by Justice AK Patnaik, the apex court bench has said that it will pass an appropriate order after going through it.

The committee said that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) must adopt a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ in matters related to corruption in the game. Pending enactment of such law by Parliament, it is necessary that the anti-corruption unit (ACU) of the BCCI be substantially strengthened with immediate effect.

With regard to Meiyappan, it said that he was in regular touch with bookies and punters and would regularly place bets in IPL matches both in favour of and against his team (Chennai Super Kings).

Nevertheless, the committee was not in a position to render any conclusive finding as to whether Meiyappan was involved in match fixing or spot fixing.

Meiyappan, the committee stated, was in violation of Sections 2.2.1 and 2.14 of the IPL Operational Rules, Articles 2.2.1, 2.2.2 and 2.2.3 of the IPL Anti-Corruption Code for his acts of betting, and Articles 2.4.4 of the IPL Code of Conduct for Players and Team Officials for bringing the game of cricket into disrepute.

The committee also said that the disciplinary action by the BCCI in response to allegations of spot fixing against cricketers Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan, Ajit Chandila and Amit Singh on the basis of evidence provided by the Delhi Police is adequate and satisfactory.

Expatiating on betting and fixing, the committee said that this racket in sports functions most efficiently as a well-oiled machine throughout the country. It urged the Supreme Court to create a special investigation team or a joint investigation team to curb the menace of betting and fixing.

The committee also underscored the recommendations made by the BCCI’s ACU and the ICC’s ACSU pertaining to visitors’ access to playes’ hotel rooms, temporary leave of players from hotels, and the attachment of security and anti-corruption officers with all IPL teams constantly.

Contact by players with media representatives, representatives of sponsors and the public generally should be through the team management specifically.

Noting the huge disparity of contract money paid to IPL players, the committee said that it is important to ensure the financial security of players both in the immediate and the long-term future in order to curb corruption in cricket.

It also recommended a complete ban on post-match parties or any other parties organised by private individuals or sponsors.

The BCCI should incorporate prohibition on availing the services of any banned player by the official sponsor in any manner, including TV/radio commentary, during the period of such ban. It also stressed psychological support for players on stress management and counselling with regard to the pitfalls of success and vulnerability to approaches from unsuitable people.

It is incumbent upon the IPL governing council and the BCCI to send a clear and emphatic message that dishonesty in cricket will not be tolerated and the most effective way of conveying this message is by the prescription and imposition of severe and stringent punishment.

The 170-page report, with annexures running into more than 4000 pages, has been compiled after recording statements of players, journalists and officials associated with IPL. The committee was formed by the apex court in October last year.