Criticism of West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle has escalated in the wake of a TV interview in Australia during which he appeared to ask a female sports presenter out on a date and told her, "baby, don't blush".
He now faces a series of allegations including a claim in the Sydney Morning Herald that he "indecently exposed himself to a woman during a Sydney training session at last year's World Cup".
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Gayle was fined A$10,000 by his team the Melbourne Renegades for "innapropriate behaviour" after the interview with Channel Ten reporter Mel McLaughlin, during which he ignored her questions and instead said he would like to have a drink with her.
Gayle has since apologised for his behaviour, which was widely condemned as sexist. But he also insisted that he had not meant to be "disrespectful or offensive" to McLaughlin and suggested that the reaction had been "out of proportion" to the incident.
However, other allegations about the player's behaviour have since surfaced, and Australian international Chris Rodgers, a former team-mate of Gayle, has said that he is "not a fan" of the player, having observed the way he treated women when the two played for Sydney Thunder.
"Several other female journalists also came forward to detail inappropriate comments or unwelcome advances by Gayle," says the SMH, which also carries a claim that Gayle partly exposed himself to a woman during the World Cup in Australia last year.
"In the course of her work she entered the team dressing room to get a sandwich as she hadn't eaten all day, thinking the players were on the field training," says the paper. "Instead, she found Gayle in the room with one other player. Gayle was wrapped in a towel, which she says he pulled down to partially expose his genitals to her while saying to her: 'Are you looking for this?'"
The incident reportedly prompted West Indies team manager Richie Richardson to email the squad reminding them to be respectful to women.
But Gayle "has form" when it comes to "boorish shtick", claims Russell Jackson in an opinion piece for The Guardian. "There's still apparently a marquee slot in the competition's increasingly slick scene for a grown man who calls himself 'World Boss' and apparently views women as sex puppets.
"Sadly, Gayle is not a lone ranger. In the past couple of years I've watched greats of sport – men with OBEs and legions of fans – boldly and publicly sleaze on to female members of the media with no shame," he says. "It makes me wonder what they're like when the veneer of professionalism is removed altogether and they're operating out in society. Lock up your daughters? More like arm yourself with mace."
The incident has added to Australia's politically charged sporting landscape, where issues of bullying, racism and homophobia have grabbed the headlines in recent months. And Andrew Webster of the SMH claims the incident shows how far the media has to go when it comes to "boys club" attitudes.
"While Gayle has been condemned, many have suggested that this is another case of political correctness gone mad," he says. "The same people would argue Adam Goodes should never have called out racism and that David Pocock should never have shouted down homophobia.
"While Channel Ten condemned Gayle's behaviour, commentators could be heard laughing in the background, while the network played it up on social media before quickly deleting it and back-tracking.
It should've been protecting its own, because McLaughlin is one of the battling network's greatest assets."
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