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May 24, 2001

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Condon to face flak in Pakistan

Shyam Bhatia India Abroad correspondent in London

Lord Paul Condon is expected to face a barrage of criticism when he flies into Pakistan this week following the publication of his report into cricket corruption.

This will be Condon's first visit overseas since the report was published on Wednesday, and his first visit to Pakistan after his appointment last year as head of the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit. Pakistan strongly objected to Condon's appointment last year.

ICC sources confirm that Condon expects tough talking with the head of Pakistan's cricket board, Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia, with questions about the recent Pakistan-New Zealand series, which the report alludes to as having raised suspicions, as well as England's failure to investigate allegations by Don Topley that "friendly match-fixing" started back in England the 1970's during a Sunday league match.

The Pakistanis are concerned that although they have taken action against their own players, such as Salim Malik, little effort has been made to investigate corruption allegations against Alec Stewart, who was appointed captain of the England team for the next match against Pakistan starting May 31.

In his chronology of investigations into match-fixing, Condon starts with Don Topley's allegations that the outcome of a county match between Essex and Lancashire in August 1991 was "pre-determined."

He adds that no action has since been taken by the county or Test authorities because of insufficient evidence.

Condon says his report "will make disturbing reading for all those who love and follow the game of cricket. It describes at least twenty years of corruption linked to betting on international cricket matches. Corrupt practices and deliberate under-performance have permeated all aspects of the game.

" I am confident that recent measures, including the creation and work of the ACU (anti corruption unit), have stopped much of this corrupt activity. I also believe, however, that corruption continues to happen and the potential for a resurgence of corruption in cricket remains a real threat."

Condon explains that he and his team were in close contact with the King Commission in South Africa, India's CBI and London Metropolitan Police who are investigating claims by test players Chris Lewis of England and Stewart felming of New Zealand that efforts had been made to involve them in cricket corruption.

He confirms meeting Stewart with his lawyer last January and says he will "be formally interviewed in the near future by my unit."

Condon says his future programme of work in the next 12 months will include supporting CBI investigations into the links between organised crime and match fixing, allegations of criminal offences linked to the contract for television rights in the ICC knockout competition in Bangladesh in 1998 and supporting the Pakistani inquiry about the 1999 World Cup match between Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In his 24 recommendations to stamp out future corruption Condon recommends a programme of education and awareness for players, restricting the use of mobile telephones and and retricting access by "potential corruptors" to dressing rooms, hotels and training grounds and other veunes.

ICC President Malcolm Gray said it would be wrong for him to comment in detail about the report until the ICC's Executive Committee meets next month (June).

In a statement released to the media, Gray said, "The International Cricket Council has today made public the full transcripts of two reports into match fixing and corruption in international cricket.

"These documents are the first report of the ICC Anti Corruption Unit and the comments on that report by the ICC Code of Conduct Commission Inquiry Panel.

"Last week in London, a panel of five commissioners sat to review the Anti Corruption Unit report, prepared by Sir Paul Condon. Sitting on that Panel, under the chairmanship of Lord Hugh Griffiths, were Richie Benaud from Australia, Sir Oliver Popplewell from England, Justice Nasim Shah of Pakistan and Sir Denys Williams from the West Indies.

"The recommendations of this Panel have been forwarded to me as President of the ICC and passed to my colleagues on the ICC Executive Board, for discussion at our meeting in London on June 18th.

"This meeting will be a key moment in cricket's fightback against match-fixing, as members from around the world reaffirm their commitment to a corruption-free future.

"In deciding to make public these reports our aim is to make this process as transparent as possible. We want followers of the game to have no doubt that we are treating this issue with the utmost importance, and taking real steps to eradicate it.

"Until the Executive Board has met and reached its decisions, it would be premature and wrong of me to comment on the content and recommendations of these reports. But rest assured that the sole priority of the ICC is to protect the long-term health of the sport. No one should doubt our determination to achieve this aim.

"After the June Board meeting, the ICC will announce what action it intends to take, having discussed and thoroughly reviewed the reports and their recommendations. Until this time there will be no further comment from the ICC, the Code of Conduct Commission or the Anti- Corruption Unit on this matter."