Lie detectors face strong opposition

Published: July 22, 2011

Salman Butt mocks MCC’s proposal, PCB lawyer doubts accuracy, players’ association opposes usage. ILLUSTRATION: S. JAMAL

KARACHI: 

As the debate over the proposal of using lie-detector tests to curb corruption in the game gathers momentum, Pakistan players and officials have shown reservations to the idea, with banned former captain Salman Butt calling it a ‘mockery’ that could ruin players’ careers.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the guardian of the rules of cricket, recently floated the idea, saying that lie detectors had the potential to fight corruption in cricket, and further stressed that the proposal should be widely debated.

Former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who is a member of the MCC, even took a lie-detector test as part of his bid to help root corruption out of cricket. Waugh termed the whole exercise a nerve-wrecking experience.

“It was nerve-wrecking to go through, sitting in a room having your heart-rate monitored, your blood volume, your blood pressure, your perspiration,” he said. “The test lasted two hours and by the end of it I was fairly convinced that if someone had something to hide, they would be found out.”

“A mockery with cricketers’ lives”

However, former Pakistan captain Salman Butt, who is facing a criminal case in a London court following a minimum five-year ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in the spot-fixing scandal, rejected the idea.

“It’s a non-serious proposal, in fact it’s a mockery,” Butt told The Express Tribune. “If a machine is going to detect corruption, then all corruption-related issues would’ve been resolved. What’s the use of investigative agencies then?”

Butt then went on to doubt the accuracy of lie detectors and stressed that the mere idea was ‘against the concept of right and wrong’.

“It’s about the lives of cricketers. Machines cannot announce verdicts on a player’s career. It seems Waugh is working as an advertising agent for some lie-detector company.”

Basit’s conditional approval

Meanwhile, former cricketer Basit Ali, who has been vocal against corruption in the past, gave a conditional thumbs-up to the MCC’s proposal.

“If it’s hundred per cent accurate then only should it be used,” said Basit. “As far as I know, there are doubts over its accuracy and there’s always a minimal doubt over its results so the use of lie detectors should be discouraged.”

Legal hurdles

The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) legal adviser Tafazzul Rizvi, expressing his doubts over the accuracy, felt the implementation of the plan will be an uphill task.

“It’s not hundred per cent accurate,” said Rizvi. “There should be a thorough experimentation of lie detectors before implementing the proposal. However, it still wouldn’t be easy to implement it because it will require amending the laws of ICC’s member countries. In Pakistan no one can be forced to give evidence against himself.”

FICA pans proposal too

The MCC’s proposal has not only been panned by Pakistan cricket circles but also by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (Fica), which has rejected it.

“It’s Fica’s strong position that the use of lie detectors as a means of determining the guilt or innocence of a player in matters relating to corruption or on any practice for that matter, is to be rejected outright,” Fica Chief Executive Tim May said in a statement. “The lie detector tests are far from foolproof and not permissible as a means of determining people’s guilt or innocence in the courts of the majority, if not all, cricketing territories.” (With additional input from AFP).

Basit Ali

“As far as I know, there are doubts over the accuracy of the lie-detector and there’s always a minimal doubt over its results so the use of lie detectors should be discouraged.”

Tafazzul Rizvi

“It wouldn’t be easy to implement the proposal because it will require amending the laws of ICC’s member countries, as in Pakistan no one can be forced to give evidence against himself.”

Steve Waugh

“It was nerve-wrecking to go through. The test lasted for around two hours and by the end of it I was fairly convinced that if someone had something to hide, they would be found out.”

Salman Butt

“It’s about the lives of cricketers. Machines cannot announce verdicts on a player’s career. It seems Waugh is working as an advertising agent for some lie-detector company.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd,  2011.

Reader Comments (2)

  • MAD
    Jul 22, 2011 - 10:03AM

    Salma Butt says its a bad idea. I suppose that means the tests work and should be implemented at the earliest.

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  • Hasan
    Jul 22, 2011 - 2:25PM

    i agree with Salman’s Butt comment to some extent. International Cricket body may use it in a wrong way, while investigating any of our players in future. Pakistan is full of talented cricketers. God forbids, any of our player,who wouldnt pass this test may gets a life ban. so u cannot trust people nor the technology.

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