India batting great Sachin Tendulkar has backed Cricket Australia's decision to hand extended bans to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft for ball-tampering.
Smith and Warner were both banned from international cricket for 12 months for orchestrating a plot to tamper the ball during the third Test against South Africa, while Bancroft, who was caught using sandpaper to rub the ball, was hit with a nine-month ban.
In addition, Smith and Bancroft have been barred from holding any leadership position in the Australian team for the next two years, while Warner will not be considered for leadership positions indefinitely.
Tendulkar said the lengthy bans were warranted to safeguard the integrity of the sport.
"Cricket has been known as a gentleman's game," the legendary batsman wrote on Twitter. "It's a game that I believe should be played in the purest form.
"Whatever has happened is unfortunate but the right decision has been taken to uphold the integrity of the game. Winning is important but the way you win is more important."
Tendulkar's views contrast with those of former Australia bowler Shane Warne, who criticized the severity of the punishments handed out to Bancroft, Smith and Warner by Cricket Australia.
"The jump to hysteria is something that has elevated the offence beyond what they actually did, and maybe we're at a point where the punishment just might not fit the crime," the legendary leg spinner wrote in the Herald Sun.
"The hysteria has gone worldwide, and everyone that dislikes the way the Australian cricket team has played, and over the past five or so years there have been rumblings about the way this team has gone about things, have been given the opportunity to lay the boots in.
"There are those countries that don't like Australia, don't like individuals in the team, and there has been a buildup of hate which has exploded and created this tornado of hysteria."
Cricket Australia's investigation concluded that Warner had developed the plan to alter the condition of the ball using sandpaper and that the vice-captain then instructed Bancroft to carry out his plan.
Smith is charged with having had knowledge of the plot but failing to prevent it from being executed.
Smith and Warner have also been barred from competing in this year's Indian Premier League tournament by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.