Match-fixing, the new threat in IOC's battle against corruption
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Jacques Rogge believes the issues represent the next big fight facing sports organisations and governments.
“We have made doping a top priority, now there is a new danger coming up that almost all countries have been affected by and that is corruption, match-fixing and illegal gambling,” Rogge said last year.
To tackle the threat the IOC has established a monitoring unit, with input from the Metropolitan Police and the UK Gambling Commission. The group has been in regular contact since July 16, and will start daily meetings from this weekend.
The Gambling Commission will receive details of any suspicious betting patterns from the legitimate UK bookmakers it licences, while European and worldwide gambling trends will be monitored by ISM, a company retained by the IOC.
The Metropolitan Police will bring any information it has, and the IOC will hope to gather information from international federations and competing nations. Despite Rogge’s fears the practical evidence of any attempts to corrupt events for profit is scant.
An IOC spokesman said it was not an issue that “kept them awake at night”, while Nick Tofiluk, head of regulation at the Gambling Commission, said the likelihood of corruption was minimal. “Our view is that the threat of something happening is very low,” he said. “There is no specific intelligence that anything is going to happen. However, the impact of something happening would be tremendously high to the reputation of the Olympics, of the UK and sport in general.
“Because of the impact that any incident would have, we think the risk is sufficiently high for us to put in provisions. But just because there is a risk does not mean something is certain to happen.”
Rogge’s principal concern appears to be corruption instigated by illegal bookmaking operations in the subcontinent and Asia, though there is limited evidence of significant interest in Olympic sports. But the legal betting environment in the UK is also new ground for the IOC.
The Games have never been held in a country with a more liberal gambling regime and the explosion of online betting, as well as the emergence of betting exchanges that offer the chance to back losers as well as winners, offers greater opportunity than ever for those minded to profit from inside information, or at the extremes, to throw an event.
The legitimate market will be larger than ever, with bookmakers for the first time offering markets on every event in the Games.
What remains unclear is what the IOC would do with any information it does receive. If criminal activity is suspected the police will step in, but if sporting integrity is at stake it will be for the IOC to decide whether to let events suspected of being corrupted go ahead. It is a decision it hopes it will not have to take.