Colombo: Sri Lankan police has denied over-stepping its brief in trying to prevent match-fixing during the recent Champions Trophy tournament and slammed the International Cricket Council (ICC) for not sufficiently enforcing its own rules.
Cricket authorities said on Wednesday that police had taken strong exception to remarks attributed to Sir Paul Condon, the head of the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), that it had exceeded guidelines. In a strongly-worded report, police said although the ICC overtly appeared keen to crack down on match-fixing, the ACU was lax in enforcing its own guidelines on access control. The tournament, involving all 10 Test-playing nations and cricket minnows Holland and Kenya, ended in something of a damp squib with India and Sri Lanka sharing the trophy after rain washed out play on two days. The ICC said it was "overall pleased" with the level of security provided by Sri Lankan authorities to enforce anti-corruption rules. Much of the attention, however, was on what the players did off the field, with security officials battling players and their guests to enforce the "access control" regulations ordered by the ICC in the teams' hotel. The elite police unit, which provided security for the tournament, the Minister's Security Division (MSD), had been locked in a battle with West Indies manager Ricky Skerritt over his entertaining women in his hotel room. Police said that, "Had the ICC authorities acted in a firm manner, the situation may not have deteriorated to such proportions. "It appeared that while the ICC overtly wanted to stringently enforce the access control regulations, the implementation of it did not receive the required backing," an official quoted police as saying in its report. Police rejected media reports of police overstepping its brief, especially in the Skerritt incident. The West Indies Cricket Board in a statement issued in London five days ago quoted Condon saying in a letter to Skerritt that he had been the victim of a "bad and unfair experience". "Cultural and language differences clearly played their part. However, the most important factor was that the Sri Lankan police exceeded the guidance my unit gave to the Sri Lankan Cricket Board. Police in their report hit back, however. "This is totally untrue and we can only hope that the ACU chief Sir Paul Condon had been either misquoted or misunderstood in blaming the MSD for 'language and cultural differences'," it said. Police, it added, had received information that prostitutes frequented the deluxe Taj Samudra hotel where the teams were staying and tried to make contact with visiting players and officials. "Book-makers could have used call girls to obtain information from players or pass on instructions to them. While the MSD at no stage intended to impose moral values on visiting players, it was concerned that the ICC's access control regulations were flagrantly violated at the hotel." It said two Sri Lankan women had provided information to the MSD "about their entertaining several visiting players and officials, raising questions of the effectiveness of the access control regulations and attempts of the ICC to ensure a clean game". It also noted that police anti-narcotics agents had reported seeing a West Indies player in the company of a suspected drug dealer who was under surveillance. Cricket officials said the MSD sent them a detailed report on several incidents involving players, including the West Indies team, and subsequent investigations showing that women entertained by the players had forged identity papers.
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