COLOMBO: Sanath Jayasuriya has been banned for two years from all cricket-related activity by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit. This is in response to the former Sri Lanka captain refusing to co-operate with an investigation concerning corruption in the country.
It is only after Jayasuriya admitted to the offence that the ICC issued the ban, which comes into effect immediately. Last October, the former World Cup winner was charged by the ACU with two counts of breaching the ICC anti-corruption code. The charges included refusal to cooperate with an ACU investigation, obstructing or delaying the investigation including concealing, tampering with or destroying any documentation or other information which may be relevant.
Message to my fan… pic.twitter.com/YFeCR4opEs
— Sanath Jayasuriya (@Sanath07) February 26, 2019
Jayasuriya also refused to hand over the mobile phones he had been using during the investigation, something the ACU had specifically asked him to do. A day after the ACU charged him, Jayasuriya released a public statement, saying he had always conducted himself with “transparency and integrity” and that he had not been involved in any “corrupt activity” including “match-fixing, pitch-fixing”.
The charge came on the back of a year-long investigation in Sri Lanka, where the ACU said corruption had become an inherent part of the system. Its general manager, Alex Marshall, told ESPNcricinfo that the extensive investigation was a serious attempt to break the cycle of corruption that had enveloped Sri Lanka cricket.
The ACU began focusing on Sri Lanka in late 2017, following Zimbabwe’s surprising ODI series win in the country. It is understood that there were specific concerns about the fourth match in Hambantota. Jayasuriya had been the chairman of selectors at the time but stepped down a few months later in the wake of widespread criticism of his panel.
It is understood the ACU asked Jayasuriya to hand over all his communication devices since it felt they might contain vital information related to its investigation, and when he refused to do so, the charge was laid.
Under the anti-corruption code, signed by all member cricket boards, the ACU can seek bank details, phone records and assets including the immediate handover of the communication devices from players/match officials and administrators. If someone fails or refuses to do that the person can be charged.
It is believed that the ACU lawyers told Jayasuriya that he could either accept the sanction or appeal against it in the ICC’s anti-corruption tribunal. But since the tribunal has the authority to impose a stricter sentence if it too found him guilty, Jayasuriya chose against that option.
“This conviction under the Code demonstrates the importance of participants in cricket cooperating with investigations,” the ACU’s Marshall said in a media release. “Compelling participants to cooperate under the Code is a vital weapon in our efforts to rid our sport of corruptors. These rules are essential to maintaining the integrity of our sport.”
In an unprecedented step, this January, the ICC also provided a two-week amnesty window for people who had previously failed to report corruption-related offences in Sri Lankan cricket. And for the time it was in effect, everyone who came forward was free from punishment.
It is understood that 11 people were able to provide new information to the ACU which helped strengthen some currently active cases, while Marshall also said the amnesty had delivered significant intelligence resulting “in some new investigations getting underway.”
Jayasuriya is the third Sri Lankan player to be charged by ACU in the past six months, along with the pair of Nuwan Zoysa and Dilhara Lokuhettige. Last October, Zoysa, the former Sri Lankan fast bowler was sent on “compulsory leave” by Sri Lanka Cricket after the ACU charged him with breaching the anti-corruption code on three counts. Lokuhettige, too, was found guilty of breaching the code on three counts. Neither player has accepted the charge.