That's not cricket

Investigators are looking into allegations that prostitutes were used to fix sports matches.

Published January 26, 2001 8:41PM (EST)

The sport of cricket doesn't normally conjure up images of batsmen and test skippers frolicking all night in a hotel with prostitutes. But it will next month, when the International Cricket Council's quarterly meeting in Melbourne, Australia, will hear allegations of match-fixing from a team of special investigators. Led by former Scotland Yard chief Sir Paul Condon, the team intends to brief the council on recently disclosed scheme -- the hiring of hookers by illegal bookmakers to distract, encourage or otherwise entice the sport's top players to throw matches.

The hooker-cricket scam might have gone unnoticed had it not been for a goody-goody former player named Qasim Omar, who played for Pakistan in the 1980s. Omar has alerted authorities and given them a list of 23 seduction professionals who are believed to have been enlisted into the cause. According to Omar, the hookers included a doctor, nurse, travel agent and a television presenter, and were hired by an Australian bookie, working through two madams in Sydney. All of the prostitutes were local Australian talent, except for one who was Chinese and another who was Pakistani. Allegedly, the male players were either boffed into exhaustion before matches, rendered unable to play well or were showered with sexual favors after the game, as a reward for inferior performance.

News reports in Australia and the U.K. say that the sexual services were arranged with meetings in hotels, restaurants and semi-restaurants such as a Melbourne McDonald's outlet. Omar and the sex workers are scheduled to be interviewed next month by investigators. The team of detectives has a three-year deadline to sort out the corruption and suggest remedies.

Authorities are grateful that Qasim Omar bravely stepped forward with his insider information, but it has not been determined how exactly he came into possession of all addresses and phone numbers of the 23 prostitutes.

By Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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