Wed, Jun 01, 2016 - Page 18 News List

IPL corruption-free due to clampdown on fixing: chairman

AFP, BANGALORE, India

Indian Premier League chairman Rajeev Shukla attends a presentation ceremony at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, India, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Rajeev Shukla said that this year’s edition of the cash-rich extravaganza had been free of corruption thanks to a multi-pronged approach to tackling fixing.

In an interview shortly before Sunday’s final, Shukla said organizers engaged the anti-graft unit of the International Cricket Council (ICC), local police and the expertise of a former top police official.

The IPL is the most popular domestic league in the world, but has been plagued by controversies since its inception in 2008, with corruption and match-fixing cases often taking center stage.

A spot-fixing scandal in 2013 led to two teams — Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals — being suspended last year for two seasons. Shukla said an aggressive approach to tackling fixing meant there had been no signs of corruption at the ninth edition of the IPL, which featured 60 matches in 57 days at 11 venues.

“All precautions were taken in order to curb corruption and we have been successful in that,” Shukla said in Bangalore, before Sunrisers Hyderabad’s eight-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore.

“We engaged the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit. We also relied on the expertise of our board’s anti-corruption unit led by Neeraj Kumar,” Shukla added.

In earlier editions, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which runs the IPL, has not always called upon the ICC anti-corruption unit.

Kumar is a former commissioner of Delhi police and a former joint director of India’s leading investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation. He investigated cricket’s biggest match-fixing scandal, involving former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje, in 2000 and the 2013 IPL scandal involving Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.

Sreesanth, a Rajasthan Royals bowler, was banned for life along with teammates Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila for their involvement in the spot-fixing and betting scandal.

They were arrested in 2013 along with scores of bookmakers as part of a probe into allegations that players had underperformed in return for cash from bookmakers.

Criminal charges were dropped, but the players were banned for breaching the BCCI’s code of conduct. The Rajasthan Royals were suspended, while the Chennai Super Kings were also temporarily barred for misconduct by their officials.

Shukla resigned as IPL chairman as the spot-fixing controversy threatened to destroy the Twenty20 league, but he was reappointed last year.

Shukla played down speculation that the league could be taken out of India. Then-BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur — who has since been appointed BCCI president — was reported as saying in April that a move abroad was under consideration.

However, Shukla said any talk about a shift overseas was in response to a Bombay High Court decision that saw 13 matches shifted out of the state of Maharashtra because of drought.

“Talks of IPL moving out of India was a knee-jerk reaction at the time of last-minute venue shifting,” Shukla said. “Everybody was feeling so bad that suddenly, for no substantial reason, we have been asked to shift the matches — obviously, people made comments out of frustration.”

The IPL has been played outside India twice, during general election years: in 2009 in South Africa and in 2014, when opening games took place in the United Arab Emirates.

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