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ICC launches corruption probe in Sri Lanka

Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal at a practice session AFP

The ICC has confirmed its Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has opened an investigation in Sri Lanka, less than 48 hours after 40 top cricketers petitioned Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to launch an inquiry into corruption allegations.

On Friday, SLC confirmed it had received a letter signed by national players, including captains Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga, urging the board to probe the "baseless allegations" the players claim were made by former cricketer and selector Pramodya Wickramasinghe. The board, however, stopped short of stating it would launch the probe, and merely recounted the current players' dismay at having their integrity questioned. But the ICC itself has now publicly established ACU officers have recently visited Sri Lanka in relation to an investigation.

"The ICC Anti-Corruption Unit works to uphold integrity in cricket and this includes conducting investigations where there are reasonable grounds to do so," Alex Marshall, the ICC's General Manager - ACU, said. "There is currently an ACU investigation underway in Sri Lanka. Naturally, as part of this, we are talking to a number of people."

There have been rumours in Sri Lanka about the nature of play in a particular international match for several weeks, but no evidence of any sort has been produced, or even pointed to.

And while some present cricketers claim Wickramasinghe made wild allegations against them, Wickramasinghe himself has more recently suggested that he was only making note of allegations that were already in circulation.

Nevertheless, Wickramasinghe has been cast as the source of these allegations. SLC said the players had expressed "profound shock and displeasure at a former national cricketer and selector making such serious allegations," and that SLC should "initiate an immediate inquiry by summoning Wickramasinghe in fairness to their good names that have been slandered by such diabolic [sic.] allegations."

Whatever the case, it is uncommon for the ICC to comment on ongoing ACU investigations as they have on this occasion.