Illegal bets are 'cancer' killing sport, says Rogge

IOC president says London Games could be affected by increase in mafia-linked activity

Illegal betting presents an increasing threat to the credibility of all sport, according to Jacques Rogge. The president of the International Olympic Committee, and one of the most powerful men in sport, has issued a stark warning that betting is as much of a danger as illegal drug use, describing it as "potentially crippling" and a "cancer" with links to "mafia" organisations.

Rogge, writing exclusively for The Independent, has also warned that the Olympics, which London hosts next year, could be hit if action is not taken to combat the problem. Rogge has called for cross-governmental co-operation as the only means through which the issue can be addressed with any degree of impact.

Hugh Robertson, the Minister for Sport, will join his counterparts from Australia, France and Switzerland today in Lausanne, where Rogge is hosting a ground-breaking meeting to discuss illegal gambling at the IOC's headquarters. The secretary general of Interpol and the head of the corruption and economic crime branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime will also attend.

The issue of match-fixing, and its burgeoning offshoot spot-fixing, has long been a problem in cricket – three Pakistan players are due in court in London later this month to face criminal charges – but Rogge believes it now presents a very real and imminent threat across the sporting spectrum. Last week Andy Mangan, one of the five players banned by the Football Association for betting on matches, told The Independent that it remains a problem in the lower leagues and young players in particular are "vulnerable" to gambling.

"Illegal betting has yet to be detected at an Olympic Games, but we are not naïve," writes Rogge. "We know the day will eventually come.

"The potential for corruption is at an all-time high due in part to the advent of betting on the internet and the anonymity, liquidity and sheer volume it encompasses. There are more temptations and pressure on athletes, coaches, officials and others to cheat for betting gains than at any other time in the past. What's worse, this cancer continues to go largely unregulated in many parts of the world."

Robertson has been pushing for a concerted international effort, raising the issue in a session with Commonwealth sports ministers in Delhi last year and also with his European opposite numbers. "The integrity of sport is absolutely paramount," said Robertson yesterday. "Fans must be confident that what they are seeing in front of them is fair and true. A unified, international approach can help tackle this threat head on.

"We need all sports to work with us on this and have clear penalties in place for those that jeopardise true competition in sport. Educating players must also be a crucial part of the solution. I welcome the IOC taking on this issue and we will help by sharing best practice from our approach in this country and offering to lead, or support, any future international initiatives."

Robertson's willingness to offer government-level involvement will be welcomed by Rogge and the IOC. "We need a broad collaboration with governments," said Rogge. "These are mafia links and mafia people and they bet at the same time while manipulating the result of a match."

He acknowledged that sport would have to play its part. Representatives from Fifa, the Italian football association and the Bundesliga are taking part in today's session, but nobody from the ICC, cricket's governing body, will be in attendance. The other British representatives are Nick Tofiluk, director of regulation at the Gambling Commission, and Colin Moynihan, president of the British Olympic Association.

Fifa is investigating two international friendlies played in Turkey last month which saw seven penalties scored in games between Bulgaria and Estonia and Latvia and Bolivia. In the Czech Republic a police investigation into match-fixing in the country's top-flight football league has just concluded, with a decision on whether anyone is to be charged expected later this month.

Carsten Koerl, the chief executive of the German betting watchdog Sportradar, claimed recently during the ongoing trial of four men for orchestrating a match-fixing ring in Bochum that "manipulation is increasing". Koerl said: "In the past five months we assume that between 70 and 100 games in Europe were manipulated."

Snooker and tennis have also suffered from match-fixing claims

In the UK, the previous government appointed the former Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry to prepare a report into sports betting integrity. Its conclusions, supported by the current administration, were published last year and led to the "beefing up" of the sports betting intelligence unit that works within the Gambling Commission and an increase in education projects for players across sports, an aspect that is seen as being vital. Uefa and Fifa both have specialist units in place to track irregular betting patterns.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried