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It’s a question of ethics

Calcutta, July 26: Though there have been ‘whispers’ about Thilanga Sumathipala’s possible association with a bookmaking firm, the International Cricket Council (ICC) hasn’t sought a clarification as the newly-elected Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) president has signed the “stringent” directors’ declaration.

The heads of all ten Test-playing nations serve as directors on the ICC’s executive board as also that of IDI Ltd (ICC’s commercial arm) and are required to ink the Code of Ethics-driven declaration. “The bit about some connection with bookmaking does keep surfacing but, where we are concerned, Mr Sumathipala has signed the declaration discounting links with betting and/or bookmaking,” a top ICC official told The Telegraph.

The highly influential Sumathipala, it may be recalled, routed Sri Lanka’s (1996) World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga in the June 6 elections. Earlier, Ranatunga (an MP) spurned Sumathipala’s offer of joining hands by insisting he didn’t wish to work with those “tainted by allegations of corruption.”

For Sumathipala, this is his third stint as BCCSL president.

The directors’ declaration has been in the news after Chetram Singh’s decision to withdraw his candidature for the West Indies Cricket Board presidency. The owner of the Guyana-based Goodwood Racing Service was set to be unanimously elected (succeeding Rev. Wesley Hall), but the declaration issue forced a rethink. That came about despite the ICC saying Singh’s nominee would be allowed to take the West Indies’ seat on the boards.

The bookmaking firm accepts bets on horse and dog racing only, but the ICC is firm about its directors not having anything to do with gambling in any sport.

Incidentally, the relevant Code of Ethics provision (under Betting, Gaming or Gambling) reads:

(7.2) “No Director shall, either directly or indirectly bet or instruct, permit or enable any person for the benefit of any such Director to bet on the result, progress or conduct of any cricket match or cricket competition.

“No Director shall have any business association or enter into any business arrangement (whether formal or informal) with any person or company who has interests in gambling or any other form of financial speculation on the outcome of any sporting event anywhere in the world if such association or arrangement involves the payment of any monies to or by, or the conferring of any benefit(s) or advantage(s) upon or by, the Director either directly or indirectly for entering into such association or arrangement.”

Nothing will be lost if the ICC’s affiliates too introduce a uniform Code of Ethics.

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