| Salman Butt in Lahore, on Wednesday |
Calcutta/Karachi: Salman Butt and Mohammed Asif have lost their cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, with the world’s top sports tribunal dismissing their appeals against the bans imposed on them in 2011 by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on spot-fixing charges.
Ex-captain Butt and former fast bowler Asif were handed bans of 10 (five years of which were suspended) and seven years (two years of which were suspended) respectively by the ICC for accepting corrupt payments over deliberate no-balls bowled during the Lord’s Test between Pakistan and England, in August 2010.
Both had been found guilty at London's Southwark Crown Court in November 2011 on charges of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments. Another player, fast bowler Mohammed Aamer was also banned for five years by the ICC on the same charges but he did not contest the decision.
The ICC has welcomed the CAS decision. Chief executive David Richardson has said the CAS decision “vindicated” the world body’s bans.
“The ICC notes and welcomes the decisions of the CAS as they vindicate and confirm the processes and procedures followed by the ICC over the past couple of years in respect of this important, sensitive and high-profile matter,” Richardson was quoted as saying by an ICC statement.
“The decisions strengthen our resolve to always remain vigilant and keep the game clean at all cost, whilst continuing to educate the players about the threats and ways to combat the challenges faced by our sport.”
The CAS statement, on the other hand, read: “The CAS has dismissed the appeals filed by the Pakistani cricket players Mohammed Asif and Salman Butt against the decisions taken by International Cricket Council Tribunal on February 5, 2011 in which Mr Asif received seven years ineligibility (two suspended) and Mr Butt ten years (five suspended) following an investigation into spot-fixing in relation to ‘no-balls’ bowled during a Test Match played in London in 2010.”
Butt, on his part, revealed that he had 50-50 expectations from the appeal. “I had 50-50 expectations from the appeal, but now I have to finish the two-year-and-four-months ban. I have high hopes of resuming my career because I am 28 years old and our current captain is 39 and the vice-captain is 33,” Butt added, referring to Misbah-ul Haq and Mohammed Hafeez respectively.
In their CAS case, Butt and Asif maintained that at the ages of 28 and 30 respectively, the suspensions were a career-ending punishment and that they should be given another opportunity to play for Pakistan.
Butt had pleaded that the sanction be reduced to less than five years while Asif had appealed the annulment of ICC’s decision on mainly procedural grounds.
“With respect to Mr Butt’s appeal, he did not contest the liability findings of the ICC Tribunal, but requested that the sanction be reduced to less than five years.
However, the CAS Panel was not persuaded that the sanction imposed by the ICC Panel was disproportionate, nor that any of the mitigating factors advanced by Mr Butt qualified as exceptional circumstances. Accordingly, his appeal was also dismissed,” the CAS said giving reasons for rejecting the appeal.
“In his appeal to CAS, Mr Asif requested the annulment of the ICC Tribunal’s decision on mainly procedural grounds. However, the CAS Panel found that there was no evidence advanced by Mr Asif which clearly exculpated him and that his submissions did not break the chain of circumstantial evidence or in any way undermine reasoning contained in ICC Tribunal’s decision.
For those reasons, the Panel was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Asif was a party to the spot-fixing conspiracy. The Panel also dismissed all of Mr Asif's substantive grounds of appeal,” it said.
The two players appealed to the CAS individually and their cases were handled separately but referred to the same Panel of arbitrators: Mr Graeme Mew (Canada), president of the Panel, Mr Romano Subiotto (UK/Belgium) and Judge Robert Reid (UK), who heard the parties and their representatives during hearings held at the CAS headquarters in February 2013.