The ruling marked the final chapter in one of the biggest cricketing scandals of recent years and was hailed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as a vindication of its policies against cheating.
“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeals filed by the Pakistani cricket players Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt against the decisions taken by the International Cricket Council Tribunal on 5 February 2011,” it said in a statement.
The Swiss-based court, whose arbitrators heard the two players’ cases in February, noted that Asif had requested that his ban be overturned mainly on procedural grounds.
“However, the CAS Panel found that there was no evidence advanced by Mr Asif which clearly exculpate him,” it said. The Panel was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Asif was party to the spot-fixing conspiracy,” it added.
Butt, meanwhile, had not contested that he was liable for a penalty, but had sought a reduction of his ban to below five years, the CAS said.
“However, the CAS Panel was not persuaded that the sanction imposed by the ICC Tribunal was disproportionate nor that any of the mitigating factors advanced by Mr Butt qualified as exceptional circumstances,” the court said.
Butt and two of his fast bowlers, Asif and Mohammad Aamer, were all banned by the ICC in 2011 after being found guilty of deliberately contriving no-balls in return for money in the Lord’s Test in England the previous year. Butt received a 10-year ban, five years of which were suspended, and Asif was barred for seven years, with two suspended.
ICC chief executive David Richardson said the CAS rulings “vindicate and confirm the processes and procedures followed by the ICC over the past couple of years in respect of this important, sensitive and high-profile matter”.
“The decisions strengthen our resolve to always remain vigilant and keep the game clean at all cost, whilst continuing to educate the players about the threats and ways to combat the challenges faced by our sport,” he said in an emailed statement.
Despite losing the appeal, Butt remained hopeful of making a comeback once his ban ends. “I had 50-50 expectation from the appeal, but now I have to finish the two year and four months ban,” he said in Pakistan.
“I have high hopes of resuming my career because I am 28 years old and our current captain is 39 and the vice- captain is 33,” Butt said, referring to Misbah-ul Haq and Mohd Hafeez respectively.
“I will be 30 by the time the ban is finished. Let’s see if the motivation is still there. I am trying to keep myself fit and motivated.”
The now-defunct British newspaper The News of the World exposed the players in a sting operation involving their agent Mazhar Majeed who struck a deal for 150,000 pounds ($230,000).
All three men were jailed in in November 2011 over the scandal and were released last year. Mohammad Amir pleaded guilty in court and decided not to appeal the five-year ban imposed by the ICC.