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Al Jazeera's Rahul Pathak talks to Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, who says that the minimum five-year bans handed out to three top Pakistan cricketers sends a clear message that corruption won't be tolerated.

The punishments given to Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir has been criticised by some as too leniant.

But the independent tribunal that handed down the punishment in Qatar last week said that it would have given lighter suspensions, had it been allowed to.
 
Following the conclusion of the tribunal in Doha, Lorgat was reported in Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper on Monday as saying that he favoured legalisation of sports gambling in India.

He also said he was optimistic that this month's World Cup would be corruption-free.

There has seldom been a cricket corruption case in recent years without an Indian connection – the Pakistan spot-fixing case centred on betting markets on the subcontinent.

And the clamour is growing to legalise betting in India, where legal gambling is confined to horse-racing while casinos are allowed only in a couple of states.

Lorgat and his colleagues in the ICC have held discussions about urging the Indian government to legalise cricket gambling, according to the report.

"The important thing with any punishment is that it sends a strong message...that if you do it, your career is going to be substantially reduced if not completely destroyed"

Andrew Strauss, England captain

"I agree with the notion that if it is regulated it is a lot better than if it is not regulated," Lorgat was quoted as saying.
 
"We have made inquiries, and these are the things we are working towards."

Illegal syndicate

In the absence of official figures, media reports claim an India-Pakistan one-day international draws bets worth $20 million through an illegal syndicate of which Mumbai is considered the hub.
 
Lorgat, however, had no doubt that the February 19 to April 2 World Cup, which India co-hosts along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, would be free of scandal, with the ICC's anti-corruption unit beefing up its presence.

"I am confident for two reasons," Lorgat said.

"The main one is that the vast majority of players are honest players. They do play the game in the spirit that it should be played. They are not seeking to make gains out of untoward means.

"Secondly, we are alive to what could come to the fore in terms of corruption.

"I am satisfied we will have measures in place at the World Cup. We will increase capacity because we realise things do change."
 
The ICC tribunal on Saturday found Butt, Asif and Amir, guilty of spot-fixing in the fourth Test against England last August – deliberately bowling no-balls for the benefit of betting markets.

"I think it would take someone very brave not to take heed of what has happened, " Lorgat said.
 
England captain Andrew Strauss shared Lorgat's optimism.

"The important thing with any punishment is that it sends a strong message to people who might be tempted to do it in the future that if you do it, your career is going to be substantially reduced if not completely destroyed," Strauss said in Perth on Sunday.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies