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West Sussex County Times Article
I'm back at work in the Home Office and Ministry of Justice this week, but I ended my holiday with a treat. I stole up to Lord's on Saturday to see England maintain their thrilling fightback against Pakistan in the final test match of the series.
England had been in serious trouble on Friday, reduced to 102-7 after a superb spell of fast-bowling from the left arm of Mohammad Amir, Pakistan's new 18-year-old star. Amir took six wickets and in the process became the youngest bowler to reach 50 wickets in test cricket.
But England hit back with a record breaking 332 runs from an eighth-wicket partnership between Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad. It was a great performance from the England pair who set up a 3-1 victory in the series.
But the shine was taken off when on Sunday morning the News of the World published allegations of corruption against members of the Pakistani team, including Amir.
As a cricket fan, it's depressing to hear about allegations of foul play. It would be a shame if this was the last time that English crowds saw Amir in action, and tragic if such a highly promising career was brought to a premature end.
But we need to be ruthless in rooting out corruption and cheating in sport. It's a disease which undermines the achievements of the majority of sportsmen and women who play by the rules. And it betrays the fans who spend hard-earned cash to watch their sporting heroes take part in what they expect to be a fair and genuine contest.
It's why I introduced a measure in Parliament in July to allow the Serious Organised Crime Agency to share information with UK Anti-Doping - especially important for us as we prepare to host the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012.
Some people have called for the Pakistan tour to be cut short. That would punish the majority for the alleged actions of a small minority. The players concerned must not be found guilty by the media. But they should be suspended while proper investigations are carried out.
And if the players are found guilty, the authorities must not hesitate to ban them. Cheating in sport simply cannot be tolerated.
2 September 2010
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