The Indian Premier League probe panel report submitted by Justice Mukul Mudgal found BCCI chief N Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan guilty of indulging in betting during the sixth edition of the tournament and also claimed that Meiyappan was part of the Chennai-based franchise as the team principal.
The panel suggested the following recommendations for the Board of Control for Cricket in India to carry out, in order to keep the sport away from such illegal activities.
The BCCI must adopt a "Zero Tolerance Policy" in matters of corruption in the game. It must adopt a far more pro-active role. Pending enactment of such law by the Parliament it is necessary that the Anti-Corruption Unit of the BCCI be substantially strengthened with immediate effect
* As have been noted, the betting and fixing racket in sports functions most efficiently as one well-oiled machine throughout the country. The law enforcement authorities on the other hand reveal lack of co ordination and trust amongst themselves and more often than not function at cross purposes.
* This has resulted in increasing the vulnerability of the country's economy and remains a matter of concern for national security. It is necessary that the Hon'ble Supreme Court may create a Special Investigation Team or a Joint Investigation Team so as to include officers from all specialised agencies such as enforcement directorate, Directorate of revenue intelligence, income tax authorities etc.
* It is evident that access to players, more so during the IPL, is far too free and easy leading to significant number of approaches being made to fix players or lure them to join the illegal betting syndicate. Supervision of players and an increased measure of control over their activities, though may be a sensitive issue, is necessary.
* The BCCI ACU and the ICC ACSU have made various recommendations pertaining to hotel accommodation of players, visitors access to their hotel rooms, temporary leave of players from hotels and attachment of security and anti-corruption officers with all IPL teams constantly. The proposals merit serious consideration by the BCCI subject to the caveat that while ensuring that the players are protected from contact of undesirable elements, the restrictions themselves should not be such which may ultimately affect the morale of the team.
* It is necessary to remind ourselves that the players are ambassadors of their country and the sport. The restrictions therefore ought not to isolate them or expect them to lead a monastic existence.
Measures which can be considered in this regard include:
(i) The introduction of an accreditation system; only BCCI/IPL/ Team Management accredited persons should be permitted access to players, in circumstances approved by the team management. (ii) Prohibition on access to player's hotel rooms except for immediate family members.
(iii) Strict control of telephonic access; only cellular telephones issued to players by the BCCI should be allowed and details of calls made and received should be available so as to allow monitoring by the BCCI. Possession of an unauthorised cell phone should be a punishable offence which automatically will entail deterrent punishment.
(iv) Contact by players with media representatives, representatives of sponsors and the public generally should be through the team management specifically.
III. DISCLOSURES BY PLAYERS
Another set of measures, aimed at reducing the possibility of players being vulnerable to improper approaches, include:
- The imposition on all concerned of an obligation to report, not only instances of approaches to himself, but also any information which he receives and any knowledge he obtains, however far-fetched he personally may regard it, concerning any other person including a colleague, which is suggestive of improper conduct. This is a sensitive issue amongst players.
* the fact that there is an instinctive reaction against "whistle- blowing" on friends and colleagues. It must be part of a player's education and training that this is not disreputable conduct. On the contrary, it is the decent and honourable thing to do, in the greater interest of the game and all who have to do with it. Consideration should be given to rewarding persons who report misconduct, actual or potential, Consideration should be given to anonymous reporting.
- It is important to create a schedule of events which are "notifiable events' and reports of such instances are to be made compulsory, with the sanction of penalties to be imposed for non-reporting. Such events would include any approach (of whatever nature) by a bookie; punter; colleague; official or anyone else making any such attempts to the player even though the same may said to have been made casually. This requirement be made applicable for all cricketers at all levels of the game.
- It should be made mandatory to make full and immediate disclosure by players and officials of any gifts received (possibly above a certain value) or additional income earned besides the contracted fee.
- Access to bank accounts and other financial documentation should be available to the BCCI ACU with the player's prior consent; this consent could be incorporated into the player's contract. Access and information received from such access must be kept absolutely confidential.
- A separate Code of Conduct should be enacted for Owners and Team officials, similar to the Minimum Standards for players and match officials with a specific provision prohibiting owners and team officials from betting. The Code should also prescribe sanctions/ punishments.
- A separate code should be enacted for the registration and accreditation of Players agents/Managers by the BCCI, where no player should be allowed to align with an agent not registered and accredited by the BCCI. Before accreditation of players agents, their credibility should be ensured by the appropriate authority. Accreditation should be time specific and subject to renewal after review of the performance and integrity of the agents/managers.
- There has been a unanimous appeal to create an Integrity Unit by the BCCI, quite apart from the IPL governing Council, comprising of former senior players such as Shri Sachin Tendulkar, Shri Saurav Ganguly, Shri Rahul Dravid, Mr. V.V.S Laxman, Mr. Anil Kumble and any such other persons with impeccable character, integrity and honesty. Induction of such players into the unit will give greater credibility and command the respect and confidence of the teams and find acceptance.Such a unit will be able to counsel and mentor young players, who are suddenly caught in the midst of fame and glory of IPL making them extremely vulnerable to temptations.
- There is a huge disparity of contract money paid to IPL players due to the distinction between capped and uncapped players. Reputed players, particularly those who enjoy international status, are well very paid. However, it is also a fact that the professional life span of a cricketer is short and it covers a crucial period of their lives when they might otherwise be qualifying themselves for their life's work, in a profession or other calling. The fact that there is a palpable financial insecurity amongst general and fringe players is undeniable. It is important therefore to ensure the financial security of players both in the immediate and the long term future in order to curb corruption in cricket.
* There should be a complete ban on post-match parties or any other parties organised by private individuals or sponsors. In any official function, no outsider may have access without official authorisation.
* BCCI while entering into contracts with its official sponsors should incorporate prohibition on availing the services of any banned player by the official sponsor in any manner, including as TV/radio commentator, during the period of such ban.
* 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.
One notes with utmost pain, that the folklore of corruption and such other malpractices that has come to surround the game of cricket and in particular, IPL, unfortunately has a ring of truth to it. Roots of corruption and malpractices have crept in deep into the game of cricket, more particularly, the IPL, and are seeping into the game at an alarming rate.