The person who is hurting most is me: BCCI supremo
His back against the wall after the IPL spot-fixing scandal, BCCI President N Srinivasan has not ruled out filing a criminal complaint against the arrested "dirty cricketers", insisting that no one is hurting more than him because of the crisis.
"If permitted, we will file a criminal case against them," said Srinivasan on being asked whether the BCCI would file a case against the arrested players.
"The person who is hurting the most is me. We are hurting like anything...No punishment is too little for them," Srinivasan told Karan Thapar in Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN channel.
A special cell of the Delhi police arrested India pacer S Sreesanth and his Rajasthan Royals teammates -- Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan -- for indulging in spot-fixing in at least three IPL matches as per arrangements with bookies who have underworld connections abroad.
The players, who have been suspended by the BCCI, have been brought to Delhi and charged under section 420 (cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
Facing criticism for not keeping a check on the menace of fixing despite warnings from various quarters, the defiant BCCI chief insisted that it is the greed of individual players that has created the ongoing crisis.
Image: N. Srinivasan (centre)
Photographs: Ritam Banerjee/Getty Images
'IPL has not let down people it is the dirty cricketers who have let down people'
"IPL has not let down people it is the dirty cricketers who have let down people. We feel bad that such a thing has happened. But I don't have to personally apologise as long as people can see that we are acting against the problem," he said.
"We are really shocked. I have no words to condemn what has happened. We want it never to happen again. We are an honest organisation," he added.
Srinivasan defended the league which, according to some experts of the game, has created fertile ground for fixing and manipulation.
"That's a very big generalisation. We have to admit that three players have been arrested. Their lawyers are saying they are innocent. We have to wait for the Delhi Police to substantiate these allegations," Srinivasan said.
Asked whether the Board is in a state of denial given that corruption was exposed in the league even last season, a defiant Srinivasan said, "I am not in a state of denial. There was some evidence, police have made their statement fine...all I am saying is the players are innocent till proven guilty.
"The BCCI has issued a showcause notice to them but I concede that it is a shock. I never expected that a Test player like Sreesanth and others would be accused of such wrongdoing," he added.
Image: S Sreesanth
'Three players have done something wrong but the entire IPL is not bad'
Srinivasan, in fact, lost his composure when he was repeatedly questioned on the IPL's credibility and asserted that some players going haywire should not be seen as evidence of the entire league being fixed.
"For the last two days, everybody has asked me the same question but I would say, it is the biggest tournament in the world, we should be proud of.
"The point I am making is that everybody is berating IPL saying that IPL is finished. But I am saying that yes players have been arrested and naturally it will have some impact," he added.
"Not only does it worry me but I have to sit here and listen that IPL finished. Three players have done something wrong but the entire IPL is not bad."
Asked how the BCCI would react if the speculation of more players being involved comes out to be true, Srinivasan said, "If that evidence comes out, we will deal with it. The BCCI is very concerned but I cannot go out and tell what our committee will do."
"No one can say nothing has happened when three players have been arrested. But we have to focus what we have to do. BCCI will look into it in great detail."
Image: Ajit Chandila (left) and Ankeet Chavan
'ICC is in charge of it (IPL) and they are supposed take steps to prevent fixing'
Srinivasan also brushed aside sacked IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi's recent statements that his warnings of corruption in the IPL were ignored by the Board.
"I do not give credibility to what Modi says. He is under enquiry for some very serious acts which he has committed against the BCCI. I do not want to comment on what Mr Modi says," he said.
When asked whether the BCCI also ignored warnings from the ICC Srinivasan said the governing body was supposed to act on the menace and not warn of it.
"Excuse me, ICC is in charge of it (IPL) and they are supposed take steps to prevent fixing. Whatever has been specifically requested has been dealt with by the BCCI. We are not going to keep quiet," he said.
Srinivasan, who also own the IPL team Chennai Super Kings, rebutted accusations of conflict of interest.
"This matter is before the Supreme Court. I cannot comment on it. I do not own the team, I happen to be a shareholder in the company which owns the team," he said.
The BCCI boss promised a fair enquiry into the matter, insisting that nothing would be brushed under the carpet.
"If there is a fault and something that has been overlooked we will not cover it up. We will get to the bottom of it," he assured.
He backed the idea of having tough legislation to cub fixing and betting in Indian sports.
"We will take whatever steps necessary to eradicate this. I believe that the regulation must be so tight that nobody gets even a quarter," he said.
Image: N. Srinivasan (right)
Photographs: Rohan Karthik/Getty Images