GENEVA: The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Wednesday said that it had rejected appeals against spot-fixing bans filed by disgraced former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif.
The ruling marked the final chapter in one of the biggest cricketing scandals of recent years and was hailed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) governing body as a vindication of its policies against cheating.
“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeals filed by the Pakistani cricket players Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt against the decisions taken by the International Cricket Council Tribunal on 5 February 2011,” it said in a statement.
The Swiss-based court, whose arbitrators heard the two players' cases in February, noted that Asif had requested that his ban be overturned mainly on procedural grounds.
“However, the CAS Panel found that there was no evidence advanced by Mr Asif which clearly exculpate him,” it said.
“The Panel was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Asif was party to the spot-fixing conspiracy,” it added.
Butt, meanwhile, had not contested that he was liable for a penalty but had sought a reduction of his ban to below five years, the CAS said.
“However, the CAS Panel was not persuaded that the sanction imposed by the ICC Tribunal was disproportionate nor that any of the mitigating factors advanced by Mr Butt qualified as exceptional circumstances,” the court said.
Butt and two of his fast bowlers, Asif and Mohammad Amir, were all banned by the ICC in 2011 after being found guilty of deliberately contriving no-balls in return for money in the Lord's Test in England the previous year.
Butt received a 10-year ban, five years of which were suspended, and Asif was barred for seven years, with two suspended.
ICC chief executive David Richardson said the CAS rulings “vindicate and confirm the processes and procedures followed by the ICC over the past couple of years in respect of this important, sensitive and high-profile matter”.
“The decisions strengthen our resolve to always remain vigilant and keep the game clean at all cost, whilst continuing to educate the players about the threats and ways to combat the challenges faced by our sport,” he said in an emailed statement.
Despite losing the appeal, Butt remained hopeful of making a comeback once his ban ends. “I had 50-50 expectation from the appeal, but now I have to finish the two year and four months ban,” he said in Pakistan.
“I have high hopes of resuming my career because I am 28 years old and our current captain is 39 and the vice captain is 33,” Butt added, referring to Misbah-ul Haq and Mohammad Hafeez respectively.
Butt said the last three years were the most difficult of his life.
“This was the most difficult period,” said Butt, who made his debut in 2003.
“I will be 30 by the time the ban is finished. Let's see if the motivation is still there.
“I am trying to keep myself fit and motivated.”
The now-defunct British newspaper the News of the World exposed the players in a sting operation involving their agent Mazhar Majeed who struck a deal for 150,000 pounds ($230,000) with an undercover reporter.
All three men were jailed in England in November 2011 over the scandal -- which was linked to illegal betting -- and were released last year after completing half of their sentences.
Amir pleaded guilty in court and decided not to appeal the five-year ban imposed by the ICC.
Asif played 23 Tests and 38 one-day internationals and was regarded as one of the best new-ball bowlers in the world.
Butt was made Test captain on the tour of England while Amir, a teenager at the time of the scandal, was regarded as the fastest emerging bowler in the world.
The high-profile case was just one among a litany of corruption and fixing incidents to tarnish the name of Pakistani cricket.
In 1994 captain Salim Malik was alleged to have offered bribes to Australian players Shane Warne, Tim May and Mark Waugh to underperform during matches on the tour. He was later banned for life.
Earlier this month Pakistan banned two umpires, including an international, after finding them guilty of being willing to spot-fix for money following a sting operation by Indian TV.