Lara, Waugh certain of unsoiled hands

Published: Thursday, November 2, 2000, 23:53 [IST]
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London: Former West Indies captain Brian Lara and Australian Mark Waugh have denied allegations they took a total of $60,000 (37,700 pounds) from an Indian bookmaker.

After Wednesday's release of an explosive report from India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Malcolm Gray, president of cricket's governing body, said he feared the worst was still to come in the match- fixing scandal.

The CBI report quoted Mukesh Gupta as saying he paid money to Lara and Waugh, two of the world's most gifted batsmen.

Gupta told investigators Lara had been paid $ 40,000 to under-perform in two One-day matches in India six years ago and also said he had paid Waugh $ 20,000 at a six-a-side tournament in Hong Kong to provide team information.

"I categorically deny taking money from a bookmaker or anyone else to under-perform," Lara said in a written statement in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Wednesday.

"I have passed this matter to my lawyers to take appropriate action and I will be making no further comment."

Lara, the world record holder for both Test and First Class individual innings, is a member of the West Indies team who arrive in Perth on Saturday for a five-Test tour of Australia.

Waugh, speaking from the Australia team's training camp in Queensland, was equally emphatic.

"I'd just like to say that the unsubstantiated allegations from India are totally untrue," he said.

"All the evidence is there but of course I'm willing to co-operate if there are any further investigations with the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) or International Cricket Council (ICC)."

West Indies manager Ricky Skerritt said he wanted to see some hard evidence rather than rely on Gupta's allegations. "Anybody can tell police anything, let me see some evidence," Skerritt told the Caribbean news agency CANA.

"It is his word against Brian's and, if that is all it is, then there is no way I am going to believe a bookmaker who finds himself cornered in India trying to paint cricketers all over the world with the same paint brush."

Several other players named in the report, including former England captain Alec Stewart, have denied being involved in anything underhand but Australia's Gray, president of the ICC, is bracing himself for more bad news.

"I would think we're getting to the bottom of it now but I can assure you that it is a lot deeper and broader than anybody realised or expected. I suspect in the future we might get hit with more bad news," Gray said in Sydney.

ACB president Malcolm Speed told a news conference the board wanted the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit to investigate the claims in the report. The Unit, headed by former London police commissioner Paul Condon, was set up by an emergency ICC meeting in May which also decided to ban for life any player found guilty of match-fixing.

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