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IOC targets match fixers

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David Bond | 09:44 UK time, Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Match fixing is now a bigger threat to the Olympic movement than drugs, according to International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge.

"Doping effects one individual athlete," Rogge told me in a wide-ranging interview. "But the impact of match fixing effects the whole competition. It is much bigger."

With the countdown to London 2012 gathering pace, Rogge has moved now to try and tackle the problem.

On Tuesday he hosted an anti-corruption symposium at the IOC's headquarters in Lausanne with a select bunch of government ministers, sports bodies and betting companies to try and strike an accord on what to do next.

Rogge believes the IOC can take a lead against match fixing

But, while sports such as cricket, football and tennis - to name but three - have all faced claims of betting corruption involving players, in the two Games the IOC has monitored, Beijing and Vancouver, it has spotted nothing suspicious.

Unlike some competitions, where there is a dizzying multitude of matches at all levels vulnerable to fixers, the summer Olympics come around every four years. Most competitors take part in relatively unheralded sports and have trained for much of their young lives for what could be a once in a lifetime shot at gold.

Are we really saying these athletes are likely to start throwing away that opportunity for money?

We know the gambling market for the London Olympics will be big but will it be as big as the almost daily market of racing, football, cricket and others.

Rogge acknowledges all this but adds that the IOC cannot afford to be naïve or complacent. Illegal betting is his particular concern and who knows what bets are being offered in the shady syndicates of India, China and other parts of Asia.

He wants governments - including Britain's - to use their powers of investigation and prosecution to crack down hard on any corruption which taints the integrity of the Games.

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Gambling bigger threat to Olympics than drugs - Jacques Rogge

But there is also another agenda here. Rogge has two years left before his term as president ends. He has already done much to cultivate the image of the man who cleaned up the Olympic movement after it was so tainted by drugs and host city bidding scandals.

He sees the IOC as the one truly international body which can bring together all sports, governments and other stakeholders to take a lead on protecting sporting integrity.

The IOC has already done it with the World Anti-Doping Agency and now he would like to see a similar global body set up to deal with corruption.

One only has to look at the Lord's spot fixing affair involving Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir to see there is a problem.

And yet that was only exposed thanks to an undercover investigation by a newspaper.
Sports and governing bodies like the IOC will need to be just as proactive to stand a chance of catching those cheats who deliberately underperform for cash.


  • Comment number 1.

    If you put yourself in the minds of result fixers, they can surely be divided into two camps:

    1. Corrupt officials of one nation.
    2. Professional gamblers totally disinterested in sport other than to make money.

    The first lot will usually try and fix the judges to get a result. Anyone who watched boxing in Seoul will know what happened there.....

    The second lot will try to find events least likely to see a fix uncovered. They will look for reasonably large volume of bets, a way to fix which isn't crude and ability to bet on that fix in multiple nations, preferably a long way away from London. To use an EPL analogy, it'd be far harder to police gambling dens in rural India or China than it would in Streatham.

    Athletes who currently or did use drugs in the past will be susceptible. The fixers will threaten to expose them if they don't do the fix. If that's their only livelihood, they might feel coerced to take it. So I think drugs is part of the problem here, although only a small part of it.

    The easiest fix of all would be a fancied athlete recovering from injury. Great ready made excuse, isn't there?

    You'll note I'm not saying any of these will happen. But I can see plenty of possibilities.

    I hope the authorities are thinking that way too.

  • Comment number 2.

    Match fixing is now a bigger threat to the Olympic movement than drugs, according to International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge.
    Wanna bet ?

  • Comment number 3.

    I have written an article on fixing. It is a genuine problem. And IOC's claim to have monitored betting patterns at the Beijing and Vancouver games is missing the point entirely. Most of the corruption takes place on illegal, largely Asian, betting markets. It is virtually impossible to monitor.

    The fact that the IOC and other governing bodies have agreements with Betair and other exchanges to report is to underestimate criminals. They don't use those exchanges. The internet makes it easier to bet huge amounts of money from anywhere in the world.

    We know fixers mix with players at major tournaments. We know there have been fixing scandals in the past. But now, if you'll excuse the pun, betting and the internet have 'contrived' to make fixing a major problem for sport.

    Check out my article called the Race for Integrity.


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