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Japan welcoming back players who fixed games

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The Yomiuri Shimbun

Baseball owners have opened the door to the reinstatement of a lifetime ban of a player at the center of the 1969 "black fog incident," it was announced on Wednesday.

The 12 owners, who met in Tokyo, decided to take steps toward lifting the ban on Masaaki Ikenaga, a former pitcher with the Nishitetsu Lions. Ikenaga was suspected of being involved in gambling on baseball.

The punishment was a permanent ban from the sport.

But the owners approved revisions to the baseball charter that would allow players to appeal lifetime bans after 15 years.

Players who have been slapped with indefinite bans can submit an appeal after five years. The changes could take effect as early as mid-April.

"Ikenaga has been left in this position for so long," said baseball commissioner Yasuchika Negoro. "If you take a worldly view of the situation, this is not right."

Ikenaga was grateful for the chance to have his name cleared after being blacklisted at the tender age of 23.

"I was so young at the time," he told reporters from his home in Fukuoka. "Everything was beyond my wildest imagination.

"I want to offer my thanks and let everyone share in my happiness."

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I've never heard of this scandal but in my eyes, in MLB, when you break the cardinal rule of the game, which is it's integrity, you deserve to be black balled.

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