Jacques Rogge: Sport's integrity is being eroded by cheats. We have to act now

Olympics chief says illegal betting has become as much of a problem as drug use

With a little over 500 days to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, match-fixing scandals continue to rock certain segments of world sport. From cricket to sumo, from Europe to Asia, the integrity of sport is gradually being eroded by cheats bent on leeching off the popularity of sport.

As the leader of the global sports movement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) feels it has a moral and ethical obligation to protect the credibility of sport – both Olympic and non-Olympic – by combatting cheating in all its forms.

Illegal betting has yet to be detected at an Olympic Games, but we are not naïve. We know the day will eventually come. We must be vigilant and ensure measures are in place to limit its effect and discourage any recurrence.

We feel it is time to place the same amount of effort into containing illegal and irregular betting and its corrosive offshoots as we have put into our fight against performance-enhancing drugs.

As our latest step, we have set up today the first ever meeting between the sports movement, governments, public international organisations and sports betting operators to discuss ways to battle irregular and illegal sports betting. We are encouraged by the massive response and support we have received from the invitees, which include members of Interpol, the United Nations and governments as far away as Australia and China.

Great Britain will be well represented at the meeting, with the Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson, the Gambling Commission's director of regulation, Nick Tofiluk, and others prepared to share their knowledge of the betting market and the laws regulating it in the United Kingdom. We are looking forward to constructive discussions that we hope will eventually lead to the definition and coordination of actions against irregular and illegal betting.

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. It can be argued that 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.

Illegal or irregular betting – which should not be confused with legal and regular betting offered by national lotteries and private entities, which is a major source of financing for sport – is potentially crippling. Each instance that comes to light undermines confidence in sport, which can lead to spectator apathy and drops in attendance, TV viewership and sponsorship. At its worst, it can deter people from participating in sport in the first place.

The IOC started tackling this issue in earnest in 2005. Our first task was to lead by example and to adapt our own rules in the face of this new threat, and also to raise awareness of the issue through measures such as educational programmes, seminars, and the drafting and adoption of a list of recommendations aimed at unifying the approach of the entire sports movement. We have been proactive in our message and continue to push for dialogue with all parties wherever and whenever possible.

We are currently in the process of encouraging all our partners in the Olympic movement to adopt rules that forbid betting on each sport. We initially called on the sports that had dealt with cases of match-fixing to join us in taking a unified approach to the problem. Cricket, tennis and football have all done an admirable job in this department, but there remain many international sports federations and national Olympic committees that have no legislation in place to combat irregular and illegal betting. Without it, there are no grounds on which to punish the cheats.

The support of governments is also paramount. They are the ones with the authority to create a legal framework in which legal and regular betting can take place. They, and not the sports world, can also conduct investigative searches and initiate criminal proceedings. As it becomes increasingly obvious that large criminal networks are benefiting from illegal betting, we encourage governments, wherever possible, to put in place specific criminal legislation dealing with match-fixing and cheating in sport.

A serious, concerted effort by all parties is needed to combat the problem, which is becoming increasingly difficult to detect as the cheaters are trending away from manipulating major sporting events or even the outcomes of matches. It is too risky. Instead, they focus on matches with less media attention and public scrutiny. You can have all sorts of issues in sport that happen regularly in the field of play without any suspicion and that is the great danger.

We still have a long way to go, but I am confident we are headed in the right direction. I envision that, in the next few years, we may even have a global watchdog in place, similar in structure to the World Anti-Doping Agency, and that fighting illegal betting and match-fixing will be obligatory for the international sports federations if they wish to remain part of the Olympic movement.

We applaud all the work to date undertaken by the Government, Gambling Commission, sports organisations and others in the United Kingdom. Your fight, like ours, has just begun. It is now up to all of us to join together in properly combating this scourge.

Jacques Rogge is the President of the IOC

Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor