Vol. 4 Num 77 Tue. August 12, 2003  

Can you take a lie test?

Australian cricket legend Shane Warne was under pressure on Monday to prove he has nothing to hide in the latest episode in his stormy sporting celebrity career.

Helen Cohen Alon, 45, a divorced mother-of-three from Johannes-burg, claims she was offered R200,000 (28,000 USD) by an associate of Warne to keep quiet about their relationship, phone calls and a series of text messages.

She was reported in a weekend South African newspaper as saying she met Warne in South Africa early last year and went on several dates with him while he was touring the republic with the Australian team.

Cohen Alon insists she has proof of her claims, and told Australia's Channel Nine on Monday that she wanted 33-year-old Warne to take a lie detector test if he was denying that a liaison did not take place with her.

"I want him to take a lie detector test I'm prepared to do one and I want Shane Warne to take one if he's denying everything," she said in the television interview.

Pointing to a brown paper shopping bag, she said: "All the evidence is in the bag everything that you want to know is in this bag."

Warne, who is out of cricket serving a 12-month drug ban until next February, has made no comment on the allegations and has left it to his manager-brother, Jason, to release a weekend statement.

"We regard the allegations of the South African woman, Helen Cohen Alon, as a personal issue between Shane, (Warne's wife) Simone and the relevant parties," the statement said.

"This appears to be a blatant attempt by a person attempting to set up someone for personal gain whether that be monetary or notoriety and we will consult our legal people in this regard.

"We feel to comment on the issue would only further assist her in gaining the result she is conspiring to create.

"Therefore, Shane and anyone connected to him will not be making any further comments on this topic."

The latest controversy in Warne's eventful career follows an admission in August 2000 that he made lewd telephone calls to a nurse while playing county cricket in England. He subsequently lost the Australian Test team vice-captaincy over the incident.

Cohen Alon claims the phone messages continued long after she first met Warne in South Africa.

"Every time he came to South Africa he would contact me SMS's (text messages) had already been sent to my phone. I'm not going to go into that, but it was quite disgusting some of them," she told Channel Nine.

Warne, through his management, said he was seeking legal advice over the accusations.

Cricket Australia on Monday appeared to wipe their hands of the matter, saying it rested between the individuals involved.

"Cricket Australia is aware that international cricketers attract more public and media scrutiny than private individuals," CEO James Sutherland said in a statement.

"There are obligations and standards incumbent on players, but there is also a boundary between their public lives and their lives as private citizens," he said.

Cohen Alon said Gavin Varejes, a Johannesburg associate of Warne's, allegedly offered her R200,000 (28,000 USD) to keep quiet after hearing she wanted to sell her story in February this year, when Australia was in South Africa for the World Cup.

Cohen Alon claimed Varejes paid her only half the money.

She said she had gone public with her story because of mystery phone calls she believed were linked to the failure of the alleged gag offer. Varejes has denied her allegations.