JOHANNESBURG: Alviro Petersen, a veteran of 36 Test matches, on Wednesday became the highest-profile South African cricketer to be banned for corruption since former captain Hansie Cronje in 2000.
Former opening batsman Petersen, 36, was banned for two years after agreeing a plea bargain with Cricket South Africa (CSA).
He is the sixth player to be banned following a corruption scandal which led to former international player Gulam Bodi being banned for 20 years for attempting to fix matches in South Africa's domestic T20 competition during the 2014-15 season.
More players could yet be charged. A statement by CSA announcing Petersen's ban said investigations were continuing.
Petersen admitted several breaches of CSA's anti-corruption code — four charges of failing to disclose details of an approach to engage in corrupt conduct; four charges of failing to disclose full details of evidence involving another player, four charges of failing to provide accurate and complete information to investigators; and one charge of concealing and destroying information that was relevant to the investigation.
After considering representations made by Petersen, CSA withdrew other charges, including those relating to fixing or contriving to fix any match and seeking, accepting or offering to accept any bribe or other reward to fix or influence any match.
The two-year ban will be effective from November 12 this year, when Petersen was suspended because charges were laid against him.
Petersen apologised, according to a CSA statement which quoted him as saying: "I would like to apologise to my family, friends, the public who are fans of the game of cricket, my teammates, Gauteng cricket, Lions cricket and especially to Cricket South Africa for my actions.
"At the time that the meetings with Bodi and the fixers happened, I never had any intention of fixing matches or taking money," he added.
"I now deeply regret having participated in these meetings and not to have immediately reported them to the authorities as I am obliged to do. I understand that I need to take personal responsibility for my actions and I accept the punishment that CSA has imposed on me.
He further said, "I hope that other players will learn from my experience and be better prepared if they find themselves in the situation that I was in."
Petersen is the fifth player from the Johannesburg-based Lions franchise to be banned. Bodi was banned in January, while former Test wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile received a 12-year ban in August.
Petersen scored 2093 Test runs at an average of 34.88. He made a century on debut against India in Kolkata in 2009-10 and formed a successful opening partnership with former captain Graeme Smith. He hit five Test centuries, with a highest score of 182 against England in Leeds in 2012.
After retiring from international cricket in 2015, he continued to play with success for the Lions and for English county Lancashire.
His ban will prevent him from taking part in any activity under the auspices of Cricket South Africa.
Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said: "Our aim to deal thoroughly with any form of corruption in the game remains steadfast and we will do everything in our power to protect the integrity of the game.
"Alviro has realised his mistakes and has acknowledged contravening the Code. He is obliged under the Code to have disclosed various approaches that were made to him to engage in corrupt activities.
Cronje, who captained South Africa in 53 Tests and 138 ODIs, was banned for life in 2000 after admitting to accepting money from bookmakers. AFP
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