SL sports minister seeks amendments to sports laws

The Sri Lankan sports minister, Jeewan Kumaratunga, has filed a series of proposed amendments to the island's sports law before parliament in an apparent attempt to strengthen his hand in the ongoing cricket board crisis.

The new laws would prohibit anyone with "direct" or "indirect" links with the betting industry from holding office in a national sports association and will give any government-appointed committee control over all property, including bank accounts, and full decision-making power in the event of a national association's suspension. Kumaratunga told the Daily Mirror: "We hope that the new amendments will help us rid sports of all unsavoury elements."

The minister's gazette has prompted Sri Lanka Cricket to file another writ petition in the courts, claiming in a media release that "the minister has now abused his powers by making regulations to do exactly what he failed to persuade the court to permit", and that the new regulation is "over-broad in its scope" and "has been made in an ad-hoc manner to deal with the present situation that has arisen with regard to Sri Lanka Cricket".

The anti-gambling amendments appear designed to prevent Thilanga Sumathipala, whose family runs a betting business, from holding any official position within the cricket board. The decision also follows an ongoing ICC Code of Ethics inquiry into Sumathipala's alleged gambling links.

However, while Sumathipala was once a director of the family betting business according to a sworn affidavit filed in a British High Court, he has long since maintained that he no longer has any relationship with the business. Indeed, his executive committee has welcomed the minister's move, claiming that they are planning to introduce similar restrictions in Sri Lanka Cricket's constitution that will ban those with links with gambling, liquor and tobacco industries from holding office.