Comments came as cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were being questioned by police.
The head of the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit denied on Friday that the ICC was failing to identify corruption within the sport, as the three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of an alleged betting scam were being questioned by police.
Speaking for the first time since the allegations surfaced, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the former Northern Ireland police chief who was appointed chair of the cricket governing body's anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU) three months ago, said match-fixing was “not a contagion that's widespread throughout cricket.”
“If these charges are proven, I congratulate the News of the World (newspaper),” Flanagan said. “They were brought to light in ways the ICC can't engage in; ways the ICC would not like to engage in.
“There are many instances where ACSU activity has prevented these type of actions occurring. I refute this represents a failing of the ACSU. On the contrary, I have been impressed with what my investigators have done.”
Flanagan said ICC investigators had worked closely with London police officers, who had shared material with them. He confirmed the ICC had laid several charges against Butt, Asif and Amir, all related to last week's Lord's England-Pakistan test match, but would not give any further details of the charges.
The three players are being interviewed by police for the second time since allegations surfaced that they had agreed to bowl no-balls in specific overs of last week's fourth Test at Lord's, in return for money.
They were initially questioned last weekend when the News of the World broke the story and had their mobile phones seized by the police.
The ICC's decision to suspend them was criticised by the Pakistan high commissioner (ambassador to the UK), Wajid Shamsul Hasan, who said there was no reason for the ICC to suspend the players, given that they had already voluntarily withdrawn from the Pakistan squad.
He said ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat went to see him at 5.30 p.m. on Friday and indicated that the players would not face charges from the sport's governing body. However, he appeared to change his mind after a phone call from the ICC president, Sharad Pawar.
“The ICC's just trying to play to the public gallery,” Hasan told BBC radio.
“To take action now is, of course, unhelpful, premature and unnecessary considering the players had already voluntarily withdrawn from playing.”
Sitting alongside Flanagan at the ICC press conference, Lorgat rejected Hasan's suggestion that he had led him to believe the ICC would not be taking action against the players prior to conclusion of the police investigation.
Hasan claimed that the players had been “set up” by the News of the World.
Asked if they had been framed, he answered “yes,” and suggested the newspaper's video evidence could have been filmed after the contentious no-balls had been bowled.
The News of the World said it “refuses to respond to such ludicrous allegations.” The newspaper is understood to be preparing further revelations for this Sunday.
Mazhar Majeed, the 35-year-old middleman the News of the World alleges was at the heart of the betting sting, was arrested on Sunday and released on bail. Separately, he was also arrested as part of an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs into money laundering through Croydon Athletic, the non-league football club he owns.
©Guardian News & Media 2010