The agent of Indian cricket captain M.S. Dhoni admitted on Monday that the World Cup winner had briefly held a stake in a sports management company that represents several other players in the national side.
Rhiti Sports, a group run by Dhoni's agent Arun Pandey, issued a statement following a newspaper report alleging a conflict of interest between Dhoni's cricketing and business activities.
Rhiti says on its website that it manages Dhoni as well as all-rounders Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, whose international careers depend in part on the captain who has a large influence on team selection.
Rhiti said it was "greatly aggrieved at the widespread media reports regarding an alleged conflict of interest". It said Dhoni had ceased to own shares in April after holding an unspecified stake for just over a month.
"As on date, MSD (Dhoni) holds no shareholding in Rhiti Sports Management," said the statement by Pandey.
The shares had been allotted to Dhoni in March to "secure certain old outstandings which were due for more than one year", said the statement without elaborating.
The shareholdings, alleged to be a 15 percent stake in a front-page story by a leading newspaper on Monday, come as Indian cricket is engulfed in a betting and spot-fixing scandal amid serious concerns about the management of the game.
The newspaper had earlier on Monday reported that Dhoni has a 15 per cent stake in the company, which, the report claimed, manages R P Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Pragyan Ojha.
In 2010, Dhoni signed up with Rhiti Sports reportedly for Rs 210 crore, an average of Rs 70 crore a year, the costliest deal in Indian cricket.
"Though not obligated to but in order to put at rest these widespread speculations, we are issuing the following statement to bring in knowledge the correct factual matrix.
"It is made clear that the Management of Rhiti Sports Management (P) Ltd understands its obligations to the field of sport and the country and adheres to the laws of the land," Pandey added in the statement.
Interestingly, two of these players -- Raina and Jadeja -- are part of the same IPL franchise, the Chennai Super Kings, which is also captained by Dhoni. Ojha had joined Rhiti Sports during Australia's last tour of India.
"Don't know what exactly is running in the news but just to clarify I am not with Rhiti Sports," tweeted R P Singh after the report came out.
R P Singh has played 14 Tests and 58 ODIs for India. He has taken 40 wickets in the longer format and has 69 scalps in the one-dayers. He has been out of favour for some time and has not played a Test or ODI since 2011.
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