By Lalit K. Modi - 16th May, 2012
The last few days of spot fixing allegations against players involved in the IPL, and the subsequent BCCI activity, has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons, but the BCCI needs to sort it out quickly for the benefit of the tournament's integrity and future welfare.
The allegations were broadcast by an Indian TV company, which conducted a 'sting' operation and claimed it had revealed evidence of "spot fixing and black money in IPL." According to subsequent reports, the players have said the channel misrepresented meetings with an "agent" in a Delhi hotel.
The BCCI had to act swiftly and now, must continue to do so. Suspending the five players on the basis of the 'reasonable doubt' clause in the IPL's anti-corruption rules, has certainly moved the story on from speculation to action. They also announced that Ravi Sawani, the ICC's former head of the Anti Corruption and Security Unit would lead an inquiry and as I write, the players are expected to appear before the commission in New Delhi. But now of course, they have to rule decisively - one way or the other.
Acting swiftly is a philosophy I believed in very strongly when I was Commissioner of the IPL. The basic principle was to nip everything in the bud. If there was an issue, we dealt with it, and held a press conference; if there was an announcement, we held a press conference. If we had a meeting that affected the public interest, we let the people know.
As I see it, that's what is now expected of people in this particular high and very public office and the BCCI has to accelerate the process.
So what should happen now? Well, firstly, the players have denied the charges. The Times of India highlighted the fact that "Although only a couple of them have played in the ongoing tournament, IPL and BCCI were sufficiently rattled to impose bans." The paper also says that one player, Abhinav Bali, doesn't actually have an IPL contract at all and that he only went to see the "agent" in order to get one. The intrigue deepens with a claim from Shalabh Srivastava of Kings X1 Punjab, reported in the Hindustan Times, that he was trapped by "so-called agents" as part of the TV sting. Srivastava says, "The channel didn't show my full conversation with it's reporters and if the full transcript of my conversation was shown, it had nothing against me." He added, "I am waiting for the BCCI's decision. Only then will I decide about legal action against the people behind this."
So it's an issue that has to be unravelled and dealt with quickly. IPL 5 is at an advanced stage with the group matches reaching a crucial phase and the knockout matches scheduled to start next Tuesday. The BCCI simply can't have the 'smell' of corruption hanging around in the air for any longer than is necessary and I would expect them to deal with this transparently and immediately.
But I remain concerned. It is obvious the inquiry must be conducted comprehensively but the final of this year's IPL is now only 11 days away and yesterday (with 12 days to go) the Times of India reported that the IPL Governing Council asked Ravi Sawani to submit his report in 15 days.
In my view, they haven't got that long.