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.

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial