By Shehan Daniel
Sports Minister Harin Fernando yesterday issued a special directive to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to prevent its Immediate Past President Thilanga Sumathipala from holding office within the body until an inquiry is held.
The directive was issued following a complaint received by the Piliyandala Town Sports Club, that Mr. Sumathipala holding office at SLC was a violation of gazette extraordinary No 2137/85 that bars individuals who have direct or indirect links to the gambling industry from holding office in any sports association under the Ministry of Sports.
“The directive has been issued under Section 39(1) of the Sports Law and its amendments and I have appointed a committee to inquire into this complaint,” the Minister told the Dailymirror .
“He has been suspended pending inquiry, as he handles the international affairs of SLC as Immediate Past President, and also we have received serious concerns against him from the ICC based on internal information,” he also said.
The Minister has appointed a three-member committee, chaired by Director General – Department (of) Sports Development Mr. Dhammika Muthugala and including Legal Officer Ministry of Sports – Mrs. Shiromi Ranawaka and Retired Senior SLAS Officer, Attorney-at-law Mr. S. D. Piyadasa to conduct the inquiry into the complaint, with a report to be submitted to him within a period of one month.
I have only learnt about this through the media. If and when I get a formal notice I will respond to it and take the necessary steps
Despite not contesting the previous SLC elections, Mr. Sumathipala has a place in the SLC Executive Committee as the Immediate Past President, the post that he is now temporarily unable to hold pending the inquiry. Mr. Sumathipala had no direct knowledge of this directive, he told the Dailymirror .
“I have only learnt about this through the media. If and when I get a formal notice I will respond to it and take the necessary steps,” Mr. Sumathipala said.
“I have been consistent in saying that neither I, nor the committee members of SLC, nor the players have been involved with match-fixing and I personally have no connections to the gambling industry.”
“It is evident that the gazette issued by the Minister is targeting me so let them inquire into my family and see if there are connections (to the gambling industry) or not, and whether I am suited to hold office,” Mr. Sumathipala also said.
Despite not contesting the previous SLC elections, Mr. Sumathipala has a place in the SLC Executive Committee as the Immediate Past President, the post that he is now temporarily unable to hold pending the inquiry
Thilanga awaits COPE response
Immediate Past President of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Thilanga Sumathipala has written to the Chairman of the Committee of Public Enterprises (COPE) Sunil Handunetti requesting to appear before the committee to clarify discrepancies that arose during the last COPE hearing with SLC.
SLC’s Executive Committee were summoned on September 3, and at this hearing COPE had asked them to suspend the operations of Cricket Aid, SLC’s charity arm, as they were unable to provide satisfactory answers to questions asked by the COPE. “I don’t think the representatives of SLC who attended the COPE hearing properly answered those questions and we’re properly prepared for it. My name was mentioned several times during the hearing and I think as a Member of Parliament I should be given the opportunity to clarify what was said at the hearing,” Mr. Sumathipala said at a media briefing yesterday.
“I am yet to hear back from Mr. Handunetti about my request,” Mr. Sumathipala said. (SMD)