Pakistan trio appeal against bans for spot-fixing

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The Independent Online

Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and his two team-mates, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, are to appeal against their suspension by the ICC for spot-fixing.

Their appeals were received by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne yesterday, where the International Olympic Committee was hosting a meeting on how to combat the growing threat of illegal betting across all sports.

Butt was given a 10-year ban, Asif seven and Amir five after the ICC found they had conspired over bowling no-balls in exchange for cash during a Test match at Lord's last summer. The three are due in court in London later this month to face criminal charges.

Cricket is one of a number of sports recently hit by illegal betting; football, snooker, tennis and even sumo have also suffered. Since 2006, Interpol estimates a 70 per cent growth in illegal betting. The figures, although difficult to corroborate given that it is a black market, are huge. In China, it is estimated the illegal betting market is worth some $140bn (£86bn), while the entire Asian market is estimated to amount to as much as $500bn. Interpol gave the conference, which was attended by Hugh Robertson, the minister for sport, details of three operations it has mounted in the Far East, resulting in nearly 7,000 arrests spread across China, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.

But for all the strong words that have surrounded the meeting, the outcome is only the creation of a task force to deliver a report by the end of the year. The members of the task force will be announced in two weeks. There are as yet no plans to set up a betting equivalent of the World Anti-Doping Authority. Instead the preferred option of the various governmental agencies represented was for a more "pragmatic" approach, involving greater co-operation between sporting bodies, governments and Interpol.

Robertson stressed the importance of athlete education, and acknowledged that government "has a role in making sure there is the right legislation in place".