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                                           | Report on Corruption in International Cricket | 

 Dalmiya slams Condonís report on Corruption

New Delhi, May 31: Jagmohan Dalmiya, former ICC chief on Thursday scoffed at the International Cricket Council's (ICC) report into match-fixing, saying it was cosmetic and lacked substance.

The 56-year-old Indian businessman, who was ICC president last year when the anti-corruption unit was set up, said he was disappointed the report did not probe the scandal deep enough.

"The report does not say anything new, nor does it help in solving the issue," Dalmiya said.

The report by former London Metropolitan police chief Paul Condon, which was released on May 23, said world cricket remained in the grip of match-fixers, but did not identify the guilty cricketers.

It said match-fixing was rife even after life bans were imposed on three former captains - Hansie Cronje of South Africa, Mohammad Azharuddin of India and Salim Malik of Pakistan.

"It appears to be a hasty compilation," Dalmiya said.

"Some parts have been taken from the Qayuum report in Pakistan, some from the King's commission in South Africa and some from the CBI report in India.

"It's a cosmetic exercise. Just saying that match-fixing goes on and some matches were suspicious is not enough."

Dalmiya, who was ICC president from 1997 to 2000 before being replaced by Malcolm Gray of Australia, is at the centre of an Indian federal investigation into the sale of television rights for the ICC knock-out tournament staged in Bangladesh in 1998.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation is probing charges that Dalmiya colluded with TV executives in India to cheat national broadcaster Doordarshan by raising the bid money and claiming inflated production costs from the network.

Dalmiya, whose offices and home in Calcutta were raided by the CBI earlier this year, denies the charge, saying there was no under-hand dealing while awarding the rights to Doordarshan.

Condon said in his report that he will assist the CBI in probing the charges against Dalmiya and others.

The ICC's executive board is due to meet in London on June 18 to discuss Condon's findings.

 Condon report branded a failure by media

London, May 24: Branding Sir Paul Condon's report as a failure, British media on Thursday said ICC had set up the anti-corruption unit to hammer the cheats but it ended up getting bashed up itself.

In its report unveiled on Wednesday, the anti-corruption unit came down heavily on International Cricket Council and slammed it a "fragile and loose alliance". The report by Sir Paul Condon also blamed ICC for its inability to take timely action to control the menace of match-fixing.

Quoting a highly placed ICC source, a daily wrote "the report is very disappointing. This is not what we hoped for from Sir Paul".

The report was also slammed for not naming names and harping on facts already known to close followers of the game. "We called in a top cop so that he could tell us who has done what, and then we could deal with the culprits he names. This has not happened. Our hope in getting Condon and giving him all the resources he needs -he has a budget of $1 million a year -was that for once and for all we would put an end to the sorry business.

"But it seems from his report that he has either not been able to get to the bottom of things or he cannot publish them. The problem we hoped to solve will now haunt us for years."

"The ICC wanted Condon to hammer the cheats, but all he could do was bash the ICC. Lord Condon strode into cricket as a man of authority, and came out trading in tips of icebergs and rumour and anecdote. The problem was too big for him to slap a set of metropolitan police handcuffs on," it said.

The daily said Condon's report will put the spotlight on the cricket authorities and is likely to sharpen the power struggle between various cricket bodies.

"The Indian, Pakistan and South African boards will claim that they have banned cricketers, Mohammad Azharuddin, Salim Malik and Hansie Cronje, and can do no more.

"They will also claim that, in contrast to their robust attitude, Australia and England have done nothing while West Indies are only now beginning to investigate allegations."

Imran Khan, cricketer turned politician, wrote in his column that "there is hardly anything in Sir Paul's report that most people who have followed international cricket closely did not know".

"Perhaps some of us were surprised by the revelations of death threats to those who tried to divulge information to the Condon inquiry. However, the cynic in me feels it could also be a convenient excuse to avoid answering unpleasant questions," the cricketer said.

Former England coach David Lloyd said in an article "it (Condon report) doesn't seem to have told us anything that we don't already know. It talks about things in the 1970s which is a complete mystery to me. There is no naming of names. Cricket boards are saying `yes, we will look at it' but the issue rumbles on."

Don Topley, former Essex player and Zimbabwe coach, said "my experience is that the investigation was selective and inadequate. It was not thorough enough and so many people are burying their heads in the sand."

 Condon's report could face criticism in Pakistan

London, May 24: Lord Paul Condon, head of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) anti-graft unit, is expected to face a barrage of criticism when he goes to Pakistan this week following the publication of his report into cricket corruption.

This will be Condon's first visit overseas since the report was published on Wednesday and his first to Pakistan after his appointment in the ICC last year. Pakistan had strongly objected to Condon's appointment.

ICC sources say Condon expects tough talking from the head of Pakistan Cricket Board, Lt Gen Tauqir Zia, with questions about the recent Pakistan-New Zealand series, which the report says has raised suspicions.

The Pakistanis are concerned that though they have taken action against their players like Salim Malik, little effort has been made to investigate corruption allegations against Alec Stewart, who has been appointed captain of the England team for the next match against Pakistan starting Thursday.

In his chronology of investigations into match fixing, Condon starts with Don Topley's allegations that the outcome of a county match between Essex and Lancashire in August 1991 was predetermined. He says country or test officials took no action because of insufficient evidence.

Condon says his report "will make disturbing reading for all those who love and follow the game of cricket. It describes at least 20 years of corruption linked to betting on international cricket matches. Corrupt practices and deliberate under-performance have permeated all aspects of the game."  

 

























 

Condon explains he and his team were in close contact with the King Commission in South Africa, India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and London Metropolitan Police, who are investigating claims by Test players Chris Lewis of England and Stephen Fleming of New Zealand that efforts had been made to involve them in cricket corruption.

Condon says his future program of work in the next 12 months will include supporting CBI investigations into the links between organized crime and match- fixing, allegations of criminal offences linked to the contract for television rights in the ICC knockout competition in Bangladesh in 1998 and supporting the Pakistani inquiry into the 1999 World Cup match between Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In his 24 recommendations to stamp out future corruption, Condon recommends a program of education and awareness for players, restricting the use of mobile telephones and restricting access by "potential corruptors" to dressing rooms, hotels and training grounds and other venues.

ICC president Malcolm Gray said it would be wrong for him to comment in detail about the report until the ICC executive committee meets in June.

In a statement to the media, Gray said, "The International Cricket Council has made public the full transcripts of two reports into match-fixing and corruption in international cricket.

"Last week in London a panel of five commissioners sat to review the ACU report, prepared by Sir Paul Condon. Sitting on that panel, under the chairmanship of Lord Hugh Griffiths, were Richie Benaud from Australia, Sir Oliver Popplewell of England, Justice Nasim Shah of Pakistan and Sir Denys Williams of the West Indies.

"The recommendations of this panel have been forwarded to me as president of the ICC and passed to my colleagues on the ICC Executive Board, for discussion at our meeting in London on June 18.

"This meeting will be a key moment in cricket's fight back against match-fixing, as members from around the world reaffirm their commitment to a corruption-free future.

"Until the executive board has met and reached its decisions, it would be premature and wrong of me to comment on the content and recommendations of these reports. But rest assured the sole priority of the ICC is to protect the long-term health of the sport. No one should doubt our determination to achieve this aim."

 CBI report thoroughly professional: Condon

London, May 24: Lord Paul Condon, head of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) anti-graft unit, has praised the professionalism of India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for investigating match-fixing allegations and played down allegations of murder in his cricket corruption report.

"Legal processes are quite slow, but certainly I hope by the end of this year all the allegations that were made in the thoroughly professional CBI report will have been resolved," Condon said.

In the exclusive interview with IANS, the first since his report was published on the Internet on Wednesday, Condon also stressed, "most match-fixing isn't about murder and organised crime, most of it is much lower level than that. Of course, those who have been following the story know that allegations have been made of at least one murder and a kidnapping linked to these events in recent years. But that's not the core of the report or its main suggestion that this is a recent event."

"The major thrust of what we found was that although we think we helped stop a great deal of the corruption that was going, there's still a small core of people involved," he said.

"What I've done is given the ICC a list of 24 recommendations which I think will give a much stronger chance of stopping this," he said.

During the interview he gave before leaving for Pakistan, Condon repeatedly stressed that he had been given an international brief by the ICC and was not beholden to the cricket board of any particular country.

Asked why the England cricket authorities appeared to be dragging their feet with regard to investigating allegations against individuals like Alec Stewart, Condon replied, "He's been interviewed here with his solicitor and will be interviewed again formally as will all the cricketers who were named in the CBI report."

"There is a full criminal investigation into allegations that Chris Lewis, the England player, raised and a full report has been submitted by the police. That doesn't relate to Alec Stewart. But Alec Stewart is in exactly the same position as allegations made against the other overseas players in the CBI report."

"Chris Lewis alleged quite separately from the CBI report that he was approached by bookmakers to fix matches in England. Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand player, also said he was approached by the same people. That led to a full criminal investigation and that the report is with the prosecuting authorities."

Condon said that he did not believe that further inquiries into match-fixing and other corruption allegations would from now on be swept under the carpet. If that were to happen, he said, "I would not stay involved."

Asked if he thought his recommendations to stamp out corruption went far enough, Condon replied, "I am confident that we have given world cricket a packet of recommendations that will have a positive impact."

"One of my most important recommendations is a full time member of staff who worries about these issues in each of the boards. "It should be someone like myself who is a former policeman, or a former military person, someone with that sort of background who can be around the team and make sure that people are protected I don't think it can be right that people have easy access to the team to corrupt them."

Commenting on his trip to Pakistan Condon added, "The timing is purely coincidental, in the sense that it was arranged for months and months. It so happened that I'm visiting Pakistan this week and that just leaves me two Test playing countries to visit - Bangladesh and West Indies - but I have visited all the others and some of the associate playing members."

"I've had a great deal of support from General (Taukir) Zia, the chairman (of the Pakistan Cricket Board)," he said. "I can understand their anxiety having an outsider (as the head of the ICC investigation), particularly someone from England, but I see myself and my team serving all the Test playing nations, regardless of our own backgrounds."

 Muthiah favours contract system for cricketers

Islamabad, May 24: Cricket Board President A C Muthiah tonight welcomed the recommendation of the Sir Paul Condon to improve the pay packets of cricketers and felt a contract system for players would help in instilling financial security in them.

"I personally feel its (increasing pay packets for cricketers) a good suggestion... and contract system is a better answer to regularise the income of the players," Muthiah revealed on phone from Lahore where he is attending a two-day meeting of the Asian Cricket Council.

Condon, in his report on match-fixing which was made public yesterday, said cricketers were paid less compared to some of the other sportsmen which was one of the reasons for their being lured into corrupt practices.

Muthiah said a contract system would ensure a regular income to a cricketer even while he was injured and unable to play. "We will work out a consensus (in BCCI) and try to introduce such a system for Indian players," he said.

He also supported Condon's idea of involving players and their representative bodies in the administration and overall management of the game.

Muthiah said though the report did not mention any names, the recommendations contained therein, if implemented, would go a long way in reducing corruption in the game. "We will try and implement some of the recommendations," he said.

 PCB chief impressed with Condon report

Karachi, May 24: Pakistan's cricket chief praised the work of the International Cricket Council's (ICC's) Anti-corruption unit on Thursday, one day after its interim report into match-fixing was published.

"I have no hesitation in describing Sir Paul Condon's work as excellent. It is one of the most prestigious, valuable and well researched documents ever prepared on the sport," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Tauqir Zia said from Lahore.

"It is now mandatory for every board to assist Condon to root out corruption from the sport. As far as we are concerned, we are prepared to extend full support to Condon and his unit," he added.

Condon is due to visit Pakistan from May 25-27 when he is expected to have meetings with the PCB and possibly former captain Salim Malik, who was banned from cricket for life last year following a probe into match-fixing in Pakistan.

The report said a conspiracy of silence has surrounded corruption in world cricket and that match-fixing remained a problem.

The report, sparked by the match-fixing scandal which erupted last year when former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje admitted taking money from bookmakers, did not name individuals.

But it painted a disturbing picture of corruption and players under-performing to order as betting on cricket mushroomed during the 1980s and 1990s with the proliferation of televised one day internationals.

Zia said the PCB had been following the recommendations of Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum, who conducted the inquiry into corruption in Pakistani cricket.

"We are already following the suggestions which could help us keep the players away from such controversies. But we are more than willing to learn more from this report to further strengthen our system," Zia said.

Zia reiterated his promise to conduct judicial investigations into allegations of match-fixing during the 1999 World Cup in England.

"As far as the World Cup allegations are concerned, Pakistan is committed to carry out judicial investigations and a request has already been put up to the government," he said.

In the report, ICC anti-corruption chief Paul Condon said there had been "persistent allegations" that the match between Pakistan and Bangladesh at Nottingham was rigged by bookmakers.

Zia said he was delighted that Pakistan's inquiry into match-fixing and betting had been praised in the report.

"I don't want to enter into the debate as to who should get the credit for Condon's investigations. I am more interested and proud that Pakistan's efforts have been praised," he said.

Pakistan, who had two inquiries into match-fixing allegations, banned Malik and fast bowler Ata-ur-Rehman last year and fined and censored Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saeed Anwar and Akram Raza.

"If I am provided with rock solid evidence that more of my players are involved in corruption, I promise they will be dealt with with an iron hand," Zia said.

 Imran and Richards skeptical over report

Former superstars Imran Khan and Barry Richards disagree over the effectiveness of the Condon report on corruption in cricket.

  Writing in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday both former players acknowledged that corruption was a scourge, but while Richards expressed hope that new ICC chairman Malcolm Speed would be able to tackle the problem, Khan said that many of the assertions made in the report were more complex than indicated.

Khan firstly disputed the hinted allegations made in the report that members of the Pakistan team were still corrupt and trying to influence matches.

"I dispute this, not because I think Pakistani cricketers have always been innocent, but because I feel it is highly unlikely Pakistani players would be involved in match-fixing after the scrutiny - both public and judicial - they have faced in the past six years," wrote the former allrounder.

He went on to question the claim the offshore venues were high-risk venues for match-fixing.

"Surely any match that is televised internationally has the potential of being fixed?" he asked. "The greatest amount of gambling takes place in Bombay and the bookies conduct the entire business on the telephone. So it hardly matters where the match is being played."

He added that the recommendation to pay players more would also do little to dissuade them from becoming involved in criminal activity, saying that players crossed the line through greed.

Richards expresses his reservations about the report, saying that it had created too much bad publicity for the sport.

"Without trivialising the issue, we are in danger of creating a monster that we cannot control," wrote the legendary opening batsman. "We are clutching at straws if we are going back as far as the Seventies, when declarations were made in county cricket at the end of the season so that teams could try to improve their position in the table.

"Enterprising captaincy will be forever questioned should the result not go right every time."

He said that cricket was being "unfairly targeted", and that the entire issue had become too emotionally loaded for constructive efforts to be made to get to the heart of the problem.

The two stars were in sharp disagreement about the role of the International Cricket Council and national administrations in the matter.

"For too long the International Cricket Council have not been given enough power (some say they have refused to seek it) to change things but with new chief executive Malcolm Speed picking up the cudgels next month, he has an opportunity to show real leadership by inviting the players to be represented at the highest level," said Richards.

However Khan believes the ICC is providing only obstacles, and exercising double standards.

"We have watched their impotence over the years when it came to dealing with issues like ball tampering, short-pitched bowling and neutral umpires," he said. "But what I would have liked Condon's report to expose is how the ICC obstructed the Pakistan Cricket Board's match-fixing inquiry.

"While Pakistan cricket was being devastated by the two-year-long Quyyum Inquiry, David Richards, the ICC chief executive, sat on information about the Australian Cricket Board's inquiry into Mark Waugh and Shane Warne's involvement with bookies.

"Both Richards and the Australian Cricket Board knew Warne and Waugh had given evidence against Salim Malik to the Quyyum Inquiry, yet both withheld information about the two Australian players" involvement with the bookies.

He said that Condonís biggest challenge would be taking on cricket boards who tended to protect their own players.

Today Lord MacLaurin dismisses Alec Stewart's involvement with bookmaker MK Gupta, just as Ali Bacher dismissed the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation's statement implicating Cronje.

Richards recommended that Condon be supported by a revamped and meaningful ICC and a playersí voice at the highest level.

However Khan was pessimistic about the process.

"I am sceptical that anyone who has already been involved in match-fixing will be caught," he said. "How can (Condon) deal with a crime that is so difficult to nail? The report so far does not offer any clues."

 ICC vows to protect cricket's future

London, May 23: The International Cricket Council, heavily criticised in its own anti-corruption investigation, on Wednesday vowed to take steps to eradicate match-fixing from the sport.

ICC president Malcolm Gray said the 80-page anti-corruption report by former Scotland Yard chief Paul Condon was being taken seriously and would be taken up at the ICC annual general meeting next month.

"This meeting will be a key moment in cricket's fight against match-fixing as members from around the world reaffirm their commitment to a corruption free future," Gray said.

"Our aim is to make this process as transparent as possible. We want followers of the game to have no doubt that we are treating this issue with the utmost importance and taking steps to eradicate it.

"No one should doubt our determination to achieve this aim. After the June meeting the ICC will announce what action it intends to take."

Condon's report said one-day cricket, the Indian betting industry and the governing body's lack of leadership were among the reasons for match-fixing and corruption in the sport.

In Melbourne, Australian Cricket Board chairman Malcolm Speed welcomed the report as "an important step in the ongoing fight against corruption in cricket."

"I think it is a valuable document in that it's the first time we've had an independent source, an independent inquiry, and gone right through the issue of corruption across the cricketing world," he said.

"It's a fact-based analysis, I think that's very important. It's also very important that what the document does is it provides a way forward."

But Speed urgently wanted Condon to complete an investigation over allegations batsman Mark Waugh received money from an illegal bookmaker at a tournament in Hong Kong in 1993.

Speed takes over as ICC chief executive later this year. Former England captain Ian Botham, who played first class cricket in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, said corruption would remain until individual countries tackled the problem.

"Over the last three decades there's been some strange results, but also once these people get their fingers into you, there's no escaping," he said.

"You can't walk away and say, 'I've had enough of this, thank you very much for the half million I've just made.' It doesn't work that way, so these guys don't let go. So when these guys want a favour they expect it to be done and there are severe consequences if you don't."

Lord MacLaurin, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, said anyone found guilty of match-fixing should be banned for life. "You can't suspend people for six or nine months," he said. "They come back and the game has to do without them."

When asked if he knew of any English players involved, he said: "I do not know of any allegations against any England player. The only situation we dealt with was with Alec Stewart. I spoke with him and he denied being involved."

Stewart, who has yet to be interviewed by Condon, said he would cooperate fully with any investigation. Former England captain Mike Gatting also said match fixers should be banned for life.

"When people talk about pitch reports and weather conditions the lure is for bigger things," he said. "I did not believe that Hansie Cronje had been involved. I was taken aback frankly. But it did happen and it is happening. It has to be stamped out."

Ray Illingworth, England captain in the 1970s, when Condon said cricket corruption began, said the names of match-fixers should be revealed.

"Unless they name names, there's nothing that can be done about it," he said. "At the end of the day, they're spending millions of dollars on the inquiry but they have got no names to show for it."

Chris Cowdrey, England captain in 1988, said the penalties for match fixing should be explained.

"They've got to clear it up," he said. "I don't think these reports do appear to have made a lot of difference. Every time something does happen, the authorities seem to so frightened of the lawyers, so frightened of being sued for millions, they can't actually do anything about it anyway."

Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair was asked about the report. "We'll have to study it very carefully," Blair said. "It claims there are some fairly startling allegations made in it. We'll have to look at it very carefully and see what implications there are for government in due course."  

 Cricket bodies welcome corruption probe

London, May 23: The cricket world welcomed the findings of a wide-ranging report into corruption in the sport released Wednesday, urging that there be no let up in the war against match-fixing.

The International Cricket Council anti-corruption unit report warned cricket still remained in the grip of match-fixers even after life bans were imposed on three former captains - Hansie Cronje of South Africa, Mohammad Azharuddin of India and Salim Malik of Pakistan.

All three were banned after the sensational match-fixing scandal erupted last year, which prompted the ICC inquiry.

The 35-page report, prepared by ACU chief Paul Condon, did not name any cricketer involved in match-fixing but set out a list of recommendations aimed at eradicating corruption.

Most cricket bodies were unanimous in their support of the report's findings, with South African Board organisers saying they hoped to have the corruption scourge wiped out by the time of the 2003 World Cup.

"It is most encouraging that (Sir) Paul Condon states that it is his ambition and intention to have this problem under control and reduced to the absolute minimum by the 2003 Cricket World Cup," World Cup 2003 chief Ali Bacher said in a statement.

"I fully endorse the recommendations and the proposal that the ICC put all of these into effect before 2003 in South Africa so that the paying customer can be assured of the total integrity of everyone involved," he added.

Australian Cricket Board chief Malcolm Speed said the report was "an important step in the ongoing fight against corruption in cricket," but called on the ICC to resolve outstanding allegations against Mark Waugh rapidly.

"I think it is a valuable document in that it's the first time we've had an independent source, an independent inquiry, and gone right through the issue of corruption across the cricketing world," said Speed, who takes over as ICC chief later this year.

But an unsubstantiated claim by Indian bookie Mukesh Gupta that he paid Waugh 20,000 US dollars for match information at a tournament in Hong Kong in 1993 remains unresolved.

Waugh denies the allegation. "Our position is it's very important we resolve this issue one way or the other," said Speed.

"It needs to be resolved either by Gupta giving evidence and being tested or alternatively we need at some stage to be able to say 'That's the end of the matter' so Mark can be exonerated.

"But at this stage, if you read the report, we're not at that stage." Most officials and former cricketers agreed life bans should be handed out to players found guilty of match-rigging.

"I think if people are proven to have taken money to fix games they should be banned for life," former England skipper Mike Gatting said.

"A lot of work has gone into this report and until we can find grounds for doing something there is not a lot to do. It is sad the sport has been dragged through the mire," he added.

Lord MacLaurin, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), agreed with Gatting.

"I have said that my board at the ECB will take a strong view if any of our players transgressed, he said after the release of Condon's findings.

"My own view - and it might be thought to be strong - is that we would have life bans. You can't suspend people for six or nine months. They come back and the game has to do without them."

MacLaurin called on all-Test playing countries to join forces to rid the game of fraudulent activity.

"Administrators have to be very strong and I would hope that all Test-playing nations would have a collective desire to clear up anyone who has transgressed in the past and is still playing," he said. "Clearly they should not go on playing.

Former Pakistani Test cricketer Haseeb Ahsan also welcomed the report and demanded implementation of its recommendations.

"It was long over due from the prime cricket body like ICC to investigate match-fixing and now it must ensure its implementation in all the cricket playing nations," said Ahsan who had served as chief selector for PCB.

"All those players should be dropped or barred from the team who have been suspected in match-fixing and ICC must draw some parameters about such players," he said.

But former England captain Ray Illingworth was dismissive of the report, saying it had no value until match-fixers had been identified.

"As far as I'm concerned, until they start naming names it doesn't matter. Until they name the people involved it's pointless saying anything," said Illingworth.

"Unless they name names there's nothing that can be done about it. At the end of the day

 Gray admits ICC was slow in dealing with match-fixing

London, May 23 : Stung by criticism by its own Anti- Corruption Unit, the International Cricket Council today admitted that it had been slow in dealing with match-fixing and should have done more to eliminate the scourge.

"With the benefit of hindsight... a compelling case is made that ICC and the individual Cricket Boards could and should have done more to deal with the problem of corruption at an earlier stage," ICC President Malcolm Gray told BBC.

"ICC and all the national Cricket Boards were slow to react. They didn't realise how deep and wide this problem was," he said, adding that they didn't act strongly enough, or robustly enough, or quickly enough.

The report by ACU chief Sir Paul Condon, which was made public today, comes down heavily on the role of ICC saying the world body in its present state was a 'loose and fragile alliance' and 'unlikely to succeed as a governing body'.

"It (ICC) must become a modern, regulatory body with the power to lead and direct international cricket," it said.

Indian betting industry has powered and driven cricket corruption, according to an official report on betting and match-fixing which has pledged its support to CBI in carrying forward its investigations into links between organised crime and match-fixing.

"The Indian betting industry has been the engine room which has powered and driven cricket corruption," a 36-page report by Sir Paul Condon, head of International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption Unit, posted on the apex cricket body's website, says.

However, match-fixing is a global phenomenon and "the blame for the spread of cricket corruption is a shared responsibility and must not be unfairly laid upon the Indian sub-continent," it says.

The report outlines a six-point programme to deal with the problem in the next twelve months which includes supporting the inquiries in different countries arising from the CBI report to a conclusion and starting new investigations allegations of corruption uncovered in recent months.

It has also made a number of recommendations to control and reduce corruption in cricket to "an absolute minimum" before the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

Criminal offences linked to the contract for TV rights and increasing instances of drug abuse by cricketers have also been highlighted in the report which laments that ICC in its present state is a "loose and fragile alliance" and "unlikely to succeed as a governing body".

"It (ICC) must become a modern, regulatory body with the power to lead and direct international cricket," it says.

The report says it will make a "disturbing reading" for cricket lovers as corrupt practices and deliberate under- performance had permeated all aspects of the game but hoped that its recommendations will provide a credible deterrent to future defaulters as also their detection and punishment.

Prominent among the 24 recommendations are restrictions on the use of mobile phones during international matches by players and others with insider information, and the appointment of a full-time Security Manager in each of the ICC member-countries.

Tournaments at neutral venues have also come under attack by the report which says matches at these places are more vulnerable to fixing and recommends that extra vigilance and security would be required if such venues continue to stage tournaments.

Corporate governance of ICC and making its Chief Executive and Executive Board accountable for their performance in combating malpractices are among the other steps recommended by the report to eliminate corruption. It also advocates better representation to players and their associations in the administration of the game and a more consistent approach to contracts for cricketers.

Welcoming the recommendations which have already been endorsed by ICC's Code of Conduct Commission headed by Lord Hugh Griffiths, ICC President Malcolm Gray, to whom the report will now be forwarded, said the world body was determined to protect the long term health of the sport.

"In deciding to make these reports public our aim is to make this process as transparent as possible. We want followers of the game to have no doubt that ICC is treating this issue with utmost importance and taking real steps to eradicate it," Gray said.

However, despite exemplary punishments meted out to some of the biggest stars, the report says "some players and others are still acting dishonestly and to the orders of bookmakers". It singles out the ICC knock-out tournament in Nairobi last year and the recent series between Pakistan and New Zealand as being under cloud of suspicion.

Analysing the possible reasons for the spread of corrupt practices in the game, the report says lesser pay packets com- pared to some of the other sports and uncertain playing caree- rs have made cricketers more prone to match-fixing offers.

Reduced stakes in terms of national pride as a result of the increase in the number of matches, and lack of a framework to deal with corruption are the other reasons cited by the report for the spread of the malice. It also points to a 'conspiracy of silence' where players were unwilling to provide information for fear of being ostracised by teammates. In some cases people were threatened if they spoke and there have been allegations of murder and kidnapping linked with cricket corruption.

The report also dwells on the vulnerability of a match to fixing saying 'soft matches' or 'dead rubbers' like the last match of a series which has already been won by a side are more prone to the dictates of bookmakers.

It says corruption in cricket has many manifestations because every single aspect of a match can be is bet upon. Even seemingly innocuous things like the players being placed in unfamiliar fielding positions, score of individual batsmen as compared to their opposite numbers in the other team and the end at which a particular umpire will stand are subjects of bets.

There are a number of cases where groundsmen have been bribed to interfere with a pitch overnight to assist a team for betting purposes.

The role of cricket administrators has also come under fire with the report saying in some cases they were even party to the corrupt practices.

The report traces the history of match-fixing to the 1970s when county teams reached an arrangement on the result without any transaction of money taking place. However, the problem magnified many times in the 1980s and 1990s with the increase in the number of matches and live television coverage.

CBI and Indian ministers during their interactions with the ACU team acknowledged the growth of unlawful betting in India after the resumption of international matches against Pakistan in 1978, it says.

Most of the betting is illegal which makes it more difficult to deal with. In countries where it is legal, the betting industry is more organised and often subject to money laundering regulations, the report says.

The report comes down heavily on ICC and the national Cricket Boards for not doing enough and in some cases even encouraging the malpractices. "ICC and the individual Cricket Boards could and should have done more to deal with the problem of corruption at an earlier stage," it says.

When they did respond, it was a patchwork of criminal, judicial, disciplinary and informal measures. "No single inquiry had the jurisdiction to investigate beyond its own country, players and officials. Nevertheless, a disturbing picture gradually emerged of the extent of corruption and opportunities were missed to share information and concerns," it laments.

The report however vows to fight out the evil and advocates that the Anti-Corruption Unit should be rechristened as the Anti Corruption and Security Unit and give more powers to the body.

The world-wide investigations had given ACU very vital leads and there are reasonable grounds for starting new probe against a number of individuals against whom allegations are not yet in the public domain. These new investigations relate to players, former international players, umpires and other people linked to the game, the report says.

The availability of Indian bookmaker M K Gupta, one of the key witnesses in the CBI report, and his willingness to cooperate will be critical to these investigations, it says.

 ICC to discuss match-fixing report next month

London, May 23: The International Cricket Council will debate the report by its anti-corruption unit next month, ICC president Malcolm Gray of Australia said on Wednesday.

The report, authored by former London Metropolitan police chief Paul Condon and released on the ICC website on Wednesday morning, says match-fixing was still rife in the sport.

Gray said the report will be placed before the ICC's Executive Board at its meeting here on June 18.

"This meeting will be a key moment in cricket's fightback against match-fixing, as members from around the world reaffirm their commitment to a corruption-free future," an ICC release quoted Gray as saying.

"In deciding to make public these reports our aim is to make this process as transparent as possible.

"We want followers of the game to have no doubt that we are treating this issue with the utmost importance, and taking real steps to eradicate it.

"Until the Executive Board has met and reached its decisions, it would be premature and wrong of me to comment on the content and recommendations of these reports.

"But rest assured that the sole priority of the ICC is to protect the long-term health of the sport. No one should doubt our determination to achieve this aim," Gray said.

The report was released only after it was read by the ICC's Code of Conduct committee, led by Lord Hugh Griffiths of England and including former Australian captain Richie Benaud.

 
 

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