Former Indian Premier League champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) have been suspended from the tournament for two years after team officials were found guilty of illegally betting on matches by a Supreme Court-appointed panel on Tuesday.
In what is Indian cricket's biggest corruption scandal, CSK's Gurunath Meiyappan and RR co-owner Raj Kundra have been suspended for life from cricket related activities, former chief justice Rajendra Mal Lodha, who headed the three-man Supreme Court panel, announced in the verdict.
“Their conduct has affected the image of the game, the players and others associated with the tournament,” Lodha told reporters while revealing his panel's verdict.
Asked about the financial losses of players from the two teams, Lodha said: “We did not consider financial losses to players and teams. That is not significant. The integrity of the game is what matters.”
“They (Meiyappan and and Kundra) have brought the game to disrepute. The purity of the game has been affected. Fans feel cheated and doubts abound if the IPL is clean,” Lodha added.
The ban on CSK, captained by Indian skipper MS Dhoni and a franchise of India Cements of which the managing director is International Cricket Council chairman Narayanaswami Srinivasan, will be a devastating blow to the eight-team tournament and is likely to have major repercussions on the game of cricket.
Earlier, the court had rejected the claims of Meiyappan, who had previously been described as team principal, that he was merely an enthusiast.
The court also ruled at the same time that Srinivasan, who is Meiyappan's father-in-law, would be banned from holding any post in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), where he served as the president for three years from 2011.
|From left to right:Chennai SuperKings (CSK) captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (R), CSK owner Gurunath Meiyappan. Rajasthan Royals' team owners Raj Kundra (L) and his wife Indian Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. — AFP|
The decision could have major financial consequences for some of cricket's biggest names
The 2013 IPL season was mired in controversy after police launched legal proceedings against several officials and cricketers, including former Test fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, for illegal betting and spot-fixing.
The IPL, a domestic tournament which began in 2008, features the world's top players signed up for huge fees by companies and high-profile individuals in a mix of sport and entertainment.
But it has been continuously dogged by corruption allegations and Hiken Shah, a player from Mumbai, was suspended indefinitely on Monday over an approach he made to an unnamed team-mate before this year's tournament in April-May.
The hugely popular Chennai Super Kings are also the most successful team in the IPL, having won the tournament in 2010 and 2011, and finished runners-up in 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural event in 2008 under the captaincy of Australian spin legend Shane Warne, but have failed to make the final since then.
The Lodha panel has also been empowered to recommend changes in the BCCI constitution, but this is expected to be taken up at a later date.