Meiyappan found guilty in IPL fixing probe

Associated Press

NEW DELHI (AP) — The son-in-law of Indian cricket board boss and ICC chairman-designate Narainswamy Srinivasan has been found guilty of betting and passing on information to illegal bookmakers by a committee investigating match-fixing in the Indian Premier League.

The three-member committee headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal found Chennai Super Kings team principal, Gurunath Meiyappan, guilty of being in touch with illegal bookmakers in its report Monday to India's Supreme Court.

The finding comes after the Bombay High Court last year referred to the two-member Board of Control for Cricket in India panel that initially cleared Meiyappan of the charges as "illegal and unconstitutional."

Meiyappan spent two weeks in jail last year before being bailed.

Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra previously acknowledged betting on matches during initial investigations but was not arrested. The committee suggests that Kundra's role be investigated in detail.

The Supreme Court will study the 170-page report while it waits for the BCCI and Chennai Super Kings to respond to the findings.

The committee refused to agree with Srinivasan's contention that Meiyappan was "just a cricket enthusiast" and not involved in running the team, which is primarily owned by India Cements, of which Srinivasan is the managing director.

It said that "Meiyappan was the face of Chennai Super Kings" as he was often seen at the team dugout during IPL matches. The Chennai franchise had referred to Meiyappan as the team principal but denied that he had any official role in the team once he was arrested by police.

The committee also said that input from various agencies led it to believe that betting should be legalized in the country. At present, only betting on horse-racing is legal in India.

"They (investigating agencies) have stated that legalizing sports betting would reduce the element of black (unaccounted-for) money and the influence of the underworld," the committee said in its report.

The probe committee report was submitted just two days ahead of the next IPL auctions and could jeopardize the participation of the Chennai franchise in this year's tournament in April-May as a team can be barred if its officials bring the game into disrepute.

The court, however, allowed the auctions, slated for Wednesday and Thursday, to go ahead as scheduled.

Former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, who is seen as a rival of Srinivasan and was banned by the BCCI last year for financial irregularities, said strict action needed to be taken against the franchise and its officials.

"Life ban on all connected is a must," Modi wrote on his Twitter page. "So I guess Srini's 2day victory as future warlord of cricket was short lived. I told u all so."

Former BCCI president A.C. Muthiah also indicated that Srinivasan's role as an administrator was untenable.

"I've not seen the report but I'm happy that justice has prevailed," he told the CNN-IBN news channel. "If it's all true, it has definitely weakened his (Srinivasan's) position. He has to recuse himself according to corporate principles because it is a clear case of conflict of interest."

The IPL fixing controversy erupted last year after a clutch of cricketers including test pace bowler Shantakumaran Sreesanth were arrested by Indian police for allegedly giving away a minimum number of runs in exchange for money from bookies.

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