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banner Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
CBI stick to their guns
Lord Condon
Condon's team was not assisted by the CBI
By BBC Sport Online correspondent Arjun Sandhu

Self-confessed illegal bookmaker Mukesh Gupta has not made a public appearance since providing an insight into the sordid world of illegal bookmaking to India's federal Central Bureau of Investigation.

He was never accorded the status a prized witness might aspire to for unravelling the link between sporting idols and illegal bookmakers at the cost of grave personal risk.

Gupta's allegations against some leading cricketers - made in the form of a confession to the CBI - are now being thrown out of the window by investigators in several countries after he refused to make a sworn statement.

Spurning the offer from the International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption Unit to turn informer, Gupta lost almost all his credibility.

Hansie Cronje
Cronje was nailed by the CBI report
Gupta, it seems, will remain a social outcast in cricket circles where he was once welcomed.

His existence remains that of a recluse, and he might be causing some blushes among the investigators who took his word.

But cricket observers in India believe that it was Gupta's evidence which lent credence to the CBI's report into match-fixing.

It changed the ostrich-like stand of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, who insisted that descriptions like 'fixing matches' did not exist in cricketing lexicon.

The CBI investigators don't seem perturbed by Gupta's allegations being overlooked by their counterparts in other countries, as long as it had the desired affect on India cricket.

The CBI report, which used the evidence provided by several bookmakers, has already made a dramatic influence in India, forcing the BCCI to conduct an in-house probe that led to bans on four cricketers.

Notwithstanding that the bans imposed on Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja are now facing the scrutiny of Indian courts, the CBI's posers remain: "Hasn't the CBI report put the fear of God into the heart of cricketers? Hasn't it not forced the BCCI to move and punish the guilty?"

Ajay Jadeja
Jadeja is appealing his life ban
Because of India's criminal laws failure to classify match-fixing as an offence, the CBI investigators realised it may not be possible to put match-fixers behind the bars.

But its report put immense public pressure on cricket administrators and their commercial partners to cleanse the game of any hint of match-fixing.

The CBI feels that its investigation was worthwhile, and the time put into the probe was well-spent.

Subsequent events haven't ebbed the CBI's enthusiasm in any way.

Its investigators are still pursuing a number of other cricket-related cases, including the inquest into match-fixing's underworld links and an alleged telecast rights scam for an ICC tournament in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka.

Additionally, the Delhi Police case against four South African cricketers, including skipper Hansie Cronje, and a London-based bookmaker Sanjiv Chawla is still 'live' in the court.


We made it clear to the ICC team that we're not an agency to procure Gupta to anyone else
CBI joint director R.N. Siwani
The CBI is not concerned that foreign cricketers have been exonerated by their respective boards.

CBI bosses have stated that their job was to conduct a probe for the Indian government.

The CBI's joint director R.N.Siwani, who headed probe into match-fixing, said their job did not extend to procuring evidence for the ICC.

"We made it clear to the ICC team that we're not an agency to procure Gupta to anyone else," he said.

"And we can't force him to give evidence to anyone. It's for him to decide whom he wishes to talk to."

When the ICC's investiagtion team came to India the CBI directed Sir Paul Condon's team to Gupta's jewellery shop and left them to find their own way there.

New focus

With CBI washing its hands off the ICC probe, Gupta was free of any pressure to verify the allegations he had made to the CBI.

The CBI appears more interested now in investigating the role of two ICC officials in the alleged fixing of telecast rights fees.

"We have sought assistance from the ICC to gather evidence in this case as some ICC officials are under our scrutiny," says CBI spokesman Shehzat Khan.

The CBI has filed five criminal cases, alleging the Indian broadcaster Doordarshan and ICC officials entered into a criminal conspiracy with private firms to inflate the rights fees.

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