New Delhi: The Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai on Thursday recommended a two-ODI ban on Indian players Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul for their controversial comments on women in a TV show, but fellow COA member Diana Edulji referred the matter to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)'s legal cell.
If the ban is imposed, the duo could miss the first two matches of a three-ODI series against Australia starting Saturday in Sydney.
"I am not convinced with Hardik's explanation and I have recommended a two-match ban for both players. However, the final decision will be taken once Diana gives her go ahead," Rai told PTI.
Pandya's comments on 'Koffee with Karan' were slammed as misogynistic and sexist, prompting the CoA to issue a show cause notice on Wednesday. The all-rounder, in response, said he was sincerely regretful and would not repeat the behaviour.
On the show, he had boasted about hooking up with multiple women and also how open he has been about it with his parents.
Rahul, the more restrained of the two during the interview by film-maker Karan Johar, has not yet reacted to the social media storm. The two players were given 24 hours to explain themselves by the BCCI.
"Diana has sought legal opinion whether the duo can be banned. So, obviously a decision will be taken once she gives her nod. As far as I am concerned, the comments were crass, in bad taste and unacceptable," Rai said.
Edulji also sought the opinion of BCCI acting president C K Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry on the issue.
Responding to her query, Anirudh recommended a suspension for the two and a gender sensitisation programme for them. He also took a dig at BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, who was cleared of sexual harassment charges but advised to undergo gender sensitisation by an inquiry committee.
"The players must be immediately suspended pending a proper inquiry and must be allowed to join the team (if selected) only once they have gone through a proper sensitisation in addition to serving a ban, if imposed upon them," he said.
"In any case the entire team and support staff must go through a sensitisation process. The CEO may join them in the sensitisation as well as recommended by Ms. Veena Gowda, advocate," he added.
Anirudh said there should also be an investigation into how the two players appeared on an entertainment show.
"...the provisions of the earlier contracts and the practice in place would have required these contracted players to seek permission to appear on the show. Was such a permission sought? Was such a permission granted? If so, by whom?" he asked in his response to Edulji.
"...I question the situation where the sports journalists are kept at bay while access to the players is given to entertainment shows," he said referring to the provision of players needing the Board's approval for routine media interviews.
Anirudh said the loose talk on women could also make the two players susceptible to approaches by bookmakers through "honey-traps".
"...the comments such as the ones that have been made would definitely have painted a large, red target on the back of the players for potential recruiters for the organised syndicates who attempt to indulge in match-fixing across the globe," he said.
"The very first caution that the ICC Anti-Corruption officers give in briefing to the players is to beware of situations of honey traps and the comments made on the show make it seem that the players may just be ripe for the plucking," he added.