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Make fixing a criminal offence, says Rahul Dravid

Dravid suggested a two-pronged approach to curb the menace of match-fixing and spot-fixing, saying making these illegal activities a criminal offence and educating cricketers at the junior level should be the first step.

"My personal belief is that education and counselling at a junior level is really important," Dravid said in an interview to ESPNcricinfo, around three months after three of his Rajasthan Royals' team-mates were arrested for alleged spot-fixing in the sixth edition of the IPL. "I think we've got to start early, we've got to start young but ... that part of it is already being done. I know that India has its own ACSU and even for Ranji Trophy teams this education is given," he added.

Rahul Dravid
Rahul Dravid. Pic/ Bipin Kokate

The 40-year-old former cricketer said along with creating awareness, it was important to make stringent laws to create fear among potential fixers. "I don't think only education can work, policing it and having the right laws and ensuring that people when they indulge in this kind of activities are actually punished. People must see that there are consequences to your actions. That will create fear for people," Dravid said.

"For example, look back on the doping in cycling. Everyone knows it's wrong and it's frightening having read a little about it and the number of cyclists who were doing it. Surely everyone knows it's wrong. "So the only people cyclists were scared of was not the testers, not the (cycling) authority, they were scared of the police. You read all the articles, the only guys they were scared of was the police and going to jail. So the only way that people are going to get that fear is if they know the consequences to these actions and the law that will come into play. It has got to be a criminal offence," he added.

S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila are the three Rajasthan Royals cricketers who were arrested on allegations of spot-fixing and also charge-sheeted under the strict Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). "The case is still on and I don't want to make any judgement on whether people are guilty or not and I think everyone has a right to be innocent until he's proven guilty and I'm glad the police is going ahead and doing what needs to be done and taking it to its logical conclusion," Dravid said.

The former batsman said it is the police who can bring the guilty to book but feels the cricket administrators need to work with the police to curb the menace and protect the interest of the game. "In some ways it's only the police who can do that, because they are the only ones who have the power. For example, the only way you can prove this is if you secretly tape people, if you follow people, and I don't think any administrator [could]; we would never give that power to administrators of any sporting body in our country and we shouldn't," said Dravid, who scored 13,288 runs in 164 Tests.

"For security, the cricket authorities already work in conjunction with the police. I mean the police are at our grounds, they manage security for us. So the next step is administrators need to work with the police to manage these issues as well, as they are the only ones who have that authority to be able to do this. "Both sets of people have to work together. I think you don't want police sitting in your rooms all the time, but I think there has got to be a partnership between the law and administrators of all sporting bodies," he added.

Asked if administrators have done enough, Dravid said: "I think they've tried. We can easily go around blaming just administrators and players. But the fact that the incidents are still happening, it means that it (what is being done) is not enough and we need to admit the fact that we need to work in partnership with the law in this country to be able to actually crack down on this thing."

I'd like to believe that there are good administrators as well, people who have done a lot for the game - the game has grown in this country and you can't argue with that. Across the world as well, not only in India. But like good and bad cricketers, I guess there are good and bad administrators," Dravid said.

Dravid said such scandals can diminish the reverence and respect that cricketers enjoy from their fans and if it happens it would be very a sad thing for the sport. "I think cricketers in India - right from the time I can remember, growing up - were always celebrities. I think they still are and we still are. But apart from being celebrities there's a huge amount of respect associated with being cricketers and a certain amount of reverence and honour associated with representing India," he said.

"In people's eyes, apart from other celebrities in India, I think for sportsmen in India there's a certain amount of regard. Whether (it's because) there's more money now, it's not seen as an amateur thing anymore, and for a variety of reasons things like this don't help - when we are on the front pages of the newspapers and not on the back. Dravid said he went through a plethora of emotions after the IPL scandal broke out in May.

"There is not really one emotion at a time like that. You go between anger, sadness, disappointment, you feel bad. I thought, not just from Rajasthan Royal's point of view but from the whole IPL's point of view, till that point it was a really good IPL. So for that to happen was really disappointing from everyone's point of view," he said.

"It's not just about me personally ... there are a lot of people in the team and a lot of people who have done work behind the scenes ... Obviously you do feel bad because you know some of these players at a personal level. "You've spent a lot of time with them in the dressing room. But you also feel bad for the lot of other people as well, those who've put in a lot of effort to try and make this a success. And you can sense a lot of people do feel let down, I guess it's a natural feeling. 

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