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All the president's woes

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

This time, BCCI president N Srinivasan has nowhere to hide.

The three-member probe committee — appointed by the Supreme Court and headed by Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal — has said in its report that Gurunath Meiyappan, the BCCI president's son-in-law, was the "face of the Chennai Super Kings" and that, as "team principal", he was "guilty of being in touch with illegal bookmakers".

What's more, "the committee is of the opinion that the franchise owner of Chennai Super Kings (India Cements, of which Srinivasan in vice-chairman and managing director) is responsible for failing to ensure Mr Meiyappan had complied with the BCCI's anti-corruption code, IPL operational rules, IPL regulations, and hence the franchise's actions are in violation of section 4.4.1 of the IPL operational rules and clause 11.3 of the franchise agreement."

On a high after ensuring that he would take over as ICC Board chairman later this year, Srinivasan finds himself on a sticky wicket yet again. Will these revelations affect his numero uno position in the BCCI?

Will the members of the all-powerful working committee or, for that matter, the IPL governing council take cognisance of this? Will the anti-Srinivasan lobby comprising Sharad Pawar, Jagmohan Dalmiya, Niranjan Shah and IS Bindra, now in hibernation, point a finger or two at the Chennai strongman? Will his position become untenable?

Truth is it all depends on the strictures and observations the Supreme Court makes on March 7. If the apex court does accept the report in its entirety, then it is likely to direct the BCCI/IPL to take disciplinary action against the erring franchises/officials. And according to the IPL code of conduct, a franchise is liable to be suspended for betting-/fixing-related activities. In any case, the IPL has a history of cracking the whip (remember Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Sahara Pune Warriors — albeit for other reasons?)

But before that, the BCCI has to file an affidavit in response to the report. Every other BCCI/IPL official this newspaper contacted came up with a standard response. "We haven't read the report yet. Let us study the report first. It runs into hundreds of pages," they said.

One official — and a prominent one at that — was audacious enough to say that "the committee can say whatever it wants". "The MB Shah Commission has said that Rs 60,000 crore was lost due to illegal mining in Odisha. But unless it's tabled in Parliament, how can one decide whether it's true or not? Similarly, let's wait for the BCCI to file its reply and then the Supreme Court to make its observations," he added.

Whatever be the case, the Mudgal report confirms what the country long suspected. "After interacting with several persons who were/are part of CSK, former and current players who have participated in the IPL, administrators who have been involved in the IPL, persons representing other IPL teams, cricket commentators and sports journalists, the committee is of the opinion that Meiyappan formed an integral part of Chennai Super Kings and most persons viewed him as the face of the team. Though the de-jure ownership vests in India Cements, the committee finds that Meiyappan was in fact acting as a team official if not the de-facto owner of CSK."

It goes on to say that Meiyappan was involved in betting. "It is however reasonable to hold that in the event of the tapes being found to be genuine, un-tampered and reliable and in the event that the voice in the tape is proved to be that of Mr Gurunath Meiyappan, there can be no iota of doubt that Mr Gurunath Meiyappan was indulging in betting in IPL matches."

The report also slams "representatives of India Cements, who appeared before the committee, contended that Mr Meiyapan had no shareholding in India Cements and hence cannot be considered as an owner of CSK. Further, Mr MS Dhoni, Mr N Srinivasan, and officials of India Cements took the stand that Mr Meiyappan had nothing to do with the cricketing affairs of CSK and was a mere enthusiast supporting the team."

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