By Shehan Daniel
Sports Minister Harin Fernando today (10) 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 Daily Mirror.
"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.
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 Daily Mirror.
“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.