Faced with suspension over allegation of match-fixing, three former Sri Lanka cricketers -Avishka Gunawardena, Nuwan Zoysa and Dilhara Lokuhettige – have appealed to the Geneva-based Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) against the International Cricket Council (ICC) Anti-Corruption Unit’s (ACU) decision to proceed with the arbitration without giving a fair hearing.
Michael Beloff QC, Chair of the ICC Code of Conduct Comission dismissed trio’s challenge to jurisdiction and decline to lift the provisional suspensions issued on them, forcing them to seek redress in higher forums. Even after more than six months, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is yet to proceed the hearing of these former players.
On May 10, Gunawardene, along with Zoysa, was charged by the ICC under the Emirates Board Anti-corruption Code. The charges relate to the T10 Cricket League played in the UAE in December 2017.
Avishka was charged by ICC on two counts:
Article 2.1.4 – Directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any Participant to breach Code Article 2.1.
Article 2.4.5 – Failing to disclose to the ACU (without unnecessary delay) full details of any incident, fact, or matter that comes to the attention of a Participant that may evidence Corrupt Conduct under the Anti-Corruption Code by another Participant.
Right after announcing the charges, Avishka was immediately provisionally suspended under the ECB Code and had been given 14 days to reply on the charges. However, even after more than six months, the ICC is yet to start the proceedings.
Dilhara Lokuhettige, a former cricketer now resident in Australia, also face charges of corruption under the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Code (ACC).
The world governing body granted ECB sanctioning rights to organize the exclusive event in accordance with the ICC’s event sanctioning regulations in force at that time. The ICC, however, had no role in assigning and contracting the umpires and match referees. It provided anti-corruption services to the event on ECB’s request.
Their Counsel, Chrishmal Warnasuriya, has maintained that ICC doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear and determine these cases as the tournament in question–the T10 League of 2017–does not conform to the ICC definition of either “international” or “domestic” matches; it did not have ICC sanction; and ICC had not followed proper procedure in determining provisional suspension. The cricketers maintain that the Chairman of the ICC Code of Conduct Commission did not give them a fair and reasonable opportunity to present evidence before handing out the provisional suspension.
They request the CAS to vacate the case and lift the provisional suspensions; to determine that the ICC ACU has no jurisdiction to proceed with the case; to make an order staying the operation of ICC decision to proceed with arbitration; and to direct ICC to disclose all documents and materials in respect of the said T10 League of 2017.
They want all agreements between ECB and ICC ACU to act as “agent” for the tournament; all agreements entered between the players and participants of team Sri Lanka that participated; and all records of payments with amounts to the Team Sri Lanka and/or players and participants.
The accused also seek an order declaring that the said T10 League of 2017 was neither an international nor a domestic match within the definition of ECB ACC and/or ICC regulation on sanctioning. They want appeal costs and compensation of US$ 1 million to each for the damage to reputation and loss of livelihood. The respondents are the ICC, the ECB and SLC.
On May 24, Avishka replied to ICC in the charges. However, as Avishka had some doubts over ICC involvement capacity in said T10 league, his lawyer asked for some documents to cricket world governing body.
The main questions raised by Avishka’s lawyer were:
Charges were based on incident happened in Sharjah on 14t of December.
ICC charged on behalf of Emirates Cricket Board as ‘agent’.
No document of the contract between ICC and ECB was submitted.
T-10 league owned by private owner Shaji-Ul-Mulk.
T-10 league was not sanctioned in the year 2017.
League does not come under ECB Code or ICC code.
In addition Avishka’s lawyer asked for some more documents, like:
Contract between SLC and ECB regarding T-10 league held in Sharjah in 2017.
Contracts between players/coaches and ECB/ICC (as agent).
Any agreement binding SL players to ECB code or ICC code for this league.
Documents proving ICC was appointed to be agent of ECB with regards to the league.
Sports Minister’s approval of ‘Team Sri Lanka’ to participate in the league.
Documents proving T-10 league was sanctioned by ECB in 2017.
Documents showing T-10 league was part of Future Tour Programme’s of SLC.
However, as soon as Avishka asked for this basic information and documents in order to prepare himself for the hearing, ICC officials were disappeared. In last six months, ICC has not provided a single document to Avishka, even after many promises. Even though, the concerned ICC officials promised Avishka many times to provide the documents, nothing has been sent till date.