South Africa news July 11, 2017

Tsotsobe handed eight-year ban

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Moonda: Tsotsobe ban hopefully the end of ugly saga

Lonwabo Tsotsobe, once ranked the No.1 ODI bowler in the world, has been banned for eight years for his role in the 2015 corruption case during the Ram Slam, South Africa's domestic T20 competition.

He is the seventh player to be sanctioned under the CSA's anti-corruption code after Gulam Bodi, Alviro Petersen, Thami Tsolekile, Jean Symes, Pumelela Matshikwe and Ethy Mbhalati received bans ranging from two to 20 years.

Tsotsobe is thought to be the last guilty player after the independent chairperson of CSA's anti-corruption unit, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, declared the probe closed in a statement. In its entirety the investigation, which started in November 2015, lasted 20 months.

"The investigative team have completed a thorough and far-reaching investigation. I am satisfied that all the culprits have been duly prosecuted under the Code and, unless we receive or uncover any new or previously undisclosed information, we believe we can now bring this matter to a close," Ngoepe said.

Tsotsobe admitted to 10 charges in total: one charge of attempting to fix a match, two charges of failing to disclose details of an approach to engage in corrupt conduct, two charges of failing to disclose a breach of the code by another person, three charges of failing to or refusing to co-operate with the investigation and two charges of obstructing or delaying the investigation by destroying or concealing evidence.

None of the players were found to have actually fixed a match in the tournament, something CSA has maintained throughout the investigation. There were, however, attempts to spot fix, including by Tsotsobe.

"Mr Tsotsobe has ultimately admitted his mistakes in contravening the CSA Anti-Corruption Code and, whilst no fix actually took place, it is clear that he was active in plans to participate in spot fixing and hence the sanction imposed on him," Haroon Lorgat, CSA's CEO said.

Tsotsobe offered an apology and cited financial difficulty. "I wish to apologise to cricket lovers all over the world. I was, at the time, in a very vulnerable financial state and this dilemma too easily persuaded me to participate in spot fixing. There are no words to describe the regret I have in relation to my actions and I hope that the cricket world could consider my apology and understand my deepest feeling of remorse."

Tsotsobe last played for Lions in December 2015 but was only provisionally suspended on April 24, 2017. He will not be allowed to participate in cricket activities which take place under the auspicious of any national cricket board in any capacity.

The conclusion of the investigation comes at a particularly important time for CSA because this season they will launch the inaugural Global T20 league, a privately-owned franchise tournament which mirrors the IPL, Big Bash and CPL.

The domestic franchise T20 competition, which was played without a sponsor last summer, is also expected to be take place but without the same high profile. In the 2014-15 season, when the attempted match-fixing took place, CSA sold the television rights for the domestic T20 to India for the first time, having had them bought in other territories the summer before. That significantly increased the interest and exposure of the tournament and also opened up the potential of corruption.

Bodi admitted to being the go-between who approached players to manipulate the outcome of games. One of those players, Mbhalati, said in a radio interview on PowerFM in May that he "didn't take Bodi very seriously" and both "declined and laughed at him", but admitted he "didn't disclose anything" at the time. Symes and Matshikwe are understood to be in the same boat.

Petersen, one of two former Test players to have been involved, initially said "he had been mandated to go undercover to try and expose Bodi" but later admitted to "not immediately reporting to authorities" the meeting he had had with Bodi and the alleged fixers.