During his tenure as Sports Minister, Harin Fernando achieved some incredible feats. So much so that recently, while congratulating new Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, one of the lead investigators of the International Cricket Council (ICC) ACU Steve Richardson praised Harin for keeping cricket corruption and politics free during his tenure.
While, Harin was at the forefront, cleaning Sport in Sri Lanka with utmost honesty, there was a man who stood behind him as a silent warrior. He contributed in his own way making sure that Sri Lanka becomes the first Asian country in implementing some of the laws that would be embedded in to the annals of Island’s history. Most notably the Prevention of Offences relating to Sports Act 25 of 2019 stands out as a beacon.
The above narration was spelled out about Panduka Keerthinanda, who is an Attorney-at-Law by profession and his passion to the above led him to the Ministry of Sports in Sri Lanka, a decade ago. He has been associated with Sports Ministry since 2011 and is widely regarded as one of the top most Sports lawyers in Sri Lanka and has served many committees that introduced Sports laws in to the Island.
As a legal consultant at Ministry of Sports from 2010 to 2015, Keerthinanda was one of the main people who was in the forefront in drafting and implementing National Sports Policy (2012), Convention Against Match Fixing Law, Convention Against Doping in Sport and initial draft which was implemented to the Sports act 25 of 1973.
Keerthinanda, however, delivered his best under Harin Fernando’s wings! On the lines of Harin’s missions to clean up the Sport, Keerthinanda led the task and was responsible in drafting and preparing the most awaited Anti corruption law in Sports that changed the dynamics the game in the Island! Thus, Sri Lanka became the first Asian nation to legalize corruption in sports a punishable offense.
In October 2019, Sri Lanka became the first Asian country for making a law against the entry of persons linked with betting, gaming or wagering and banning the appointment of any person connected to gambling or betting to the administration of any sports bodies. It immediately changed Sri Lanka Cricket to great extent, as Thilanga Sumathipala, the former SLC president, was banned from holding office at SLC following a directive issued on the findings and recommendations made by a three-member committee appointed by Harin.
It was a blessing for Sri Lanka Cricket! The cricket breathed freely, sans the ‘curse’ of Sumathiapala, all thanks to Harin and Keerthinanda!
Now, as Namal Rajapaksa, newly appointed Sports Minister has just assumed his duty and has spoken about the overhauling of the Sport in the country, he will definitely need a legal advisor in the caliber of Keerthinanda, Attorney at Law, who wears a Sporting Hat and drives corruption out!