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Wednesday, February 24, 1999 Published at 18:22 GMT

Sport: Cricket

Inquiry raps Aussie cricket chiefs

Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were fined by the ACB

The Australian Cricket Board has been criticised for failing to ban Shane Warne and Mark Waugh after they accepted money from a bookmaker during a tour of Sri Lanka.

An independent inquiry, set up by the ACB and conducted by Rob O'Regan QC, cleared the Board of any involvement in bribery or betting but his report condemned officials pof their handling of the Warne/Waugh case.

The pair were fined after admitting they supplied weather and pitch information to a bookmaker, but details of the case were not made public for four years.

"I'm pleased to report that never did I hear any suggestion of match-fixing or a player failing to play on his merits.

"But I disagree that the Warne and Waugh inquiry was kept private, and a more appropriate punishment would have been suspension for a period of time," said O'Regan.

Wide ranging inquiry

He interviewed 64 people, including every player currently contracted to the ACB, during the two-month long investigation.

O'Regan said it was not possible to explain the conduct of Warne and Waugh as "naivety or stupidity".

He added: "They must have known it is wrong to accept money from and supply information to a bookmaker, who they also knew as someone who bets on cricket."

The report reveals they were warned not to become involved with bookmakers by then coach Bob Simpson during the 1992 tour to Sri Lanka following an approach to teammate Dean Jones.

O' Regan also criticises the Board for failing to notify the Pakistan Cricket Board about the Warne/Waugh case following their allegations of bribery made against captain Salim Malik during a tour of Pakistan in 1994.

"I came to the conclusion that there was a distinct possibility of a connection between the two matters.

"I don't know how the ACB concluded they were separate," he said.

The inquiry also focused on other issues, including approaches to past and present Test players Jones, Allan Border, Ricky Ponting and Mark Taylor and allegations of improper conduct concerning games in India in 1992.

Call for change

O' Regan has made a series of recommendations following his investigation and urged the ACB to review the manner in which it deals with serious disciplinary matters.

His report calls on the ACB to consider possible life suspensions for any offences concerning match-fixing or bribery.

He also suggests that the outcome of any disciplinary hearing in which a player is found guilty and punished be made public, and that all players be counselled about "untoward contact with gambling interests."

There is also a recommendation that the team manager, coach and captain should all submit written reports at the end of every tour, recording deatisl of any gambling-relatecd incidents.

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