Six umpires, who were allegedly caught in a TV sting willing to fix decisions in T20 cricket matches, have been suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and its relevant Full Members, pending the completion of an inquiry against them.
"The International Cricket Council (ICC) and its relevant Full Member Boards have agreed not to appoint any of the umpires named in a sting operation recently conducted by India TV to any domestic or international cricket matches pending the outcome of the ongoing investigations into the allegations made," the governing body said in a statement.
"The officials named are not contracted by the ICC and those Boards who employ and nominate the umpires directly will conduct the investigations as a matter of urgency," it added.
Also Read: Sting on Umpires: Does the sting lack bite?
The six umpires, who are purportedly shown in the TV sting willing to give 'favourable' decisions or provide inside information on teams and playing conditions in return for illicit payments, were Nadeem Ghauri and Anees Siddiqui of Pakistan, Nadir Shah of Bangladesh, and Gamini Dissanayake, Maurice Winston and Sagara Gallage of Sri Lanka. (Read: Six umpires allegedly caught in TV sting)
In the sting, Pakistan umpire Ghauri agreed to give LBW decisions on demand, Sri Lankan umpire Sagar Gallage agreed to part with pitch information one and a half hours before the game, Bangladesh umpire Nadir Shah agreed to warn bowlers unfairly. Maurice Winston too allegedly shared a pitch report, team reports and playing XIs for the warm-up match Australia-England T20 match in exchange for Rs. 50,000.
However, the umpires have rubbished the allegations and are considering legal action against the channel. Pakistan's Nadir Shah said any suggestion he was open to bribery was "absolutely rubbish". "If I am going to fix match, I will be caught some day by the ICC... no umpire fixes matches," he told the Press Trust of India. (Read: Umpires hit back after corruption claims)
Nadeem Ghauri also denied any involvement. "I am surprised at these baseless allegations," he told AFP, saying he would consult his lawyers.
Rajat Sharma, Chairman and Editor-in Chief of India TV, stood by the channel's expose and said it was open to any inquiry or public scrutiny of their journalistic work if the authenticity of the tapes is in question.
Mr Sharma told NDTV that it was an expected reaction from those caught in the sting operation. "They are most welcome to file a case. They know that this is what they have said. We are not bothered about what they are saying because it is the least they can say. These are on the expected lines. They will say pictures are morphed, tapes are doctored. All tapes are available for any kind of inquiry. Anyone can go through the tapes and decide themselves." (Read: India TV says it is ready for lawsuit)
When asked about the lack of bite in sting as there was no exchange of money, Mr Sharma said: "All stings are done differently. Somewhere money exchange happens, sometime words are important. This is where the umpires, who are considered god on the field, who are most credible and who are the judges, who take decisions on the field, are saying this. Is it not enough? They are saying we will give out if you give me money, we will give LBW to someone who is not LBW out, where there is no snick we will give a snick. What else do we need?"
"The fact that the umpires were willing to do a "criminal" thing is unfair to cricket," he added.
Meanwhile, the BCCI has reacted to the suspension of the umpires caught in the sting operation, saying the matter completely belongs to the ICC.
"This matter is in ICC's domain. Good that ICC has taken action," IPL Chairman Rajiv Shukla said.
(With PTi inputs)