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Published: Sunday, July 15, 2001, 21:33 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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Colombo: Sri Lanka's former Test skipper Arjuna Ranatunga and his deputy Aravinda de Silva were cleared of match-fixing charges due to "inadequate and untested" evidence, the top local investigator said on Sunday.The cricketing duo were cleared after an eight-month investigation conducted by Desmond Fernando, a lawyer by profession and Sri Lanka's representative in the Code of Conduct Committee of the International Cricket Council (ICC).The allegations against the two Sri Lankan players were contained in a report by India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had looked into charges against players in that country.An Indian bookmaker, Mukesh Gupta, had claimed in testimony published in the CBI report that Ranatunga and De Silva helped him fix an Indian victory in the Lucknow Test in 1994.The pair denied the allegations. Gupta had said De Silva was paid $ 15,000 but it was not clear if there were any direct allegations against Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to World Cup victory in 1996.After an eight-month investigation, which took him to India twice, Fernando concluded there, was insufficient evidence against the two top players and underlined that he accepted their testimony in which they said they were innocent."I reiterate that Mr Gupta's statement was inadequate, untested and had infirmities which rendered his statement impossible to be acted upon," Fernando said, adding that bookmaker Gupta refused to be interview by him.Fernando said Ranatunga had flatly rejected any dealings with Gupta. De Silva had admitted that he knew the bookmaker, who he said may have made the allegations in anger after the cricketer did not co-operate in match-fixing operations."Every time he (Gupta) called, I was trying to avoid him," De Silva had said in his testimony to Fernando. "So basically, that would have been the reason (to make the false allegation)."