New Delhi: The raging spot-fixing saga in the IPL turned murkier today with controversial Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf being withdrawn by the ICC from next month's Champions Trophy in UK for his alleged role in the scandal which is growing bigger by the day.
A week after the sensational arrest of India paceman S Sreesanth and two of his Rajasthan Royals team-mates on charges of spot-fixing, Rauf's pull-out from the June 6-23 Champions Trophy added a new twist to the fast unfolding drama.
The ICC said in a statement that Rauf has been withdrawn as he was under investigation by the Mumbai Police, thus becoming the first umpire to come under the scanner in the IPL spot-fixing scandal.
"The decision has been made after media reports on Wednesday indicated that the umpire was under investigation by Mumbai Police," the ICC release said.
Explaining the decision, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: "In the wake of reports that the Mumbai Police are conducting an investigation into Asad Rauf's activities, we feel that it is in Asad's best interests as well as those of the sport and the event itself, that he is withdrawn from participating in the ICC Champions Trophy."
Rauf has had a history of controversies and only last year a small-time model named Leena Kapoor had accused him of sexually exploiting her for months before refusing to marry her.
As per the duty schedule of the on-field umpires, Rauf was supposed to officiate in a warm-up match between Australia and West Indies in Cardiff on June 1.
In the tournament group league stage, he was supposed to officiate in two matches in Cardiff. The first on June 9 was between Sri Lanka and New Zealand while other was between West Indies and South Africa.
In the ongoing IPL, Rauf had on-field umpiring duty in 13 matches, the last one being in the game between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders in Hyderabad on May 19.
The three Rajasthan Royals players -- Sreesanth, Ajit
Chandila and Ankeet Chavan -- are in police custody while actor Vindoo Randhawa, son of the late Dara Singh, has also been arrested by the Mumbai Police in connection with the case along with several other bookies, many of whom have underworld connection.
Chennai Super Kings CEO and Team Principal Gurunath Meiyappan, who is the son-in-law of BCCI President N Srinivasan, had been issued summons to be present for questioning in Mumbai between 11am and 5pm tomorrow.
But the BCCI threw its weight behind Srinivasan, saying that it was unfair to implicate his son-in-law of any wrong doing until the investigations are over.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said people should not "jump to conclusion" that Meiyappan was involved in the scandal till the police complete their investigations.
"The Mumbai and Delhi Police are competent authorities and let them finish the investigations before jumping to any conclusions," Shukla replied when asked whether Srinivasan should step down from the post of BCCI President accepting moral responsibility for the scandal.
"How can you term anyone guilty before the investigations are completed? Let the Police report be submitted and then we will be in a better position to talk further," Shukla said.
BCCI's joint secretary Anurag Thakur also spoke in the same vein stating that strong action will be taken against whoever is found guilty.
"BCCI has already taken the step on Day 1 by suspending the three players. We are waiting for the Delhi police and other state police to complete their probe and after that only we can take any decision," Thakur stated.
"Let us wait, we all have faith in police department. Let the inquiry be over and I can ensure you on behalf of BCCI that strict action will be taken against the culprits. We have no idea who all are involved. Let Delhi police complete its probe. Let's not pre-empt," he said.
It is learnt that Srinivasan was in Delhi during the day but none of the BCCI officials were willing to confirm his activities in the Capital.