IOC sports betting integrity proposals

The IOC will implement new recommendations to help combat corruption and match-fixing. (Image: IOC)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to adopt several new proposals to protect the integrity of Olympic sporting events following the first ever meeting of the International Forum for Sports Integrity (IFSI) in Lausanne on Monday.

The new initiatives will cover many different aspects of the sports world, including several that are focused on the sports betting industry.

Often, industry groups resist increased scrutiny and oversight, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem in this case.

Most regulated sports betting operations are in favor of protecting the integrity of games by any means possible, as it protects their businesses as much as it helps the IOC, other sports organizations, players and fans.

For instance, the European Sports Security Association (ESSA) has said that they will be happy to work with the IOC to help stop match fixing before it starts.

“We are pleased we could be part of this initiative,” ESSA Chairman Mike O’Kane said. “These measures are an important milestone in the drive by sporting bodies and the regulated betting industry to keep sport clean and protect consumers, regulated betting operators and athletes from unscrupulous activities.”

Hotline to Allow for Anonymous Tips

One of the major initiatives from the IOC will be a whistleblower hotline that will allow individuals to report possible match-fixing or other corruption to the IOC.

The hotline, which will be based online, will offer complete anonymity to anyone who wants to use it, from members of the public to athletes, coaches or referees.

At the IFSI, governments worldwide were also strongly encouraged to sign on to the Council of Europe’s convention against match-fixing, which ensures that local and national laws allow for cooperation with criminal investigations into match-fixing operations and properly punish practices that threaten the integrity of sporting competitions.

“When it comes to the fight against manipulation and related corruption, sport needs the help and cooperation of governments and governmental authorities and other stakeholders much more than in any other area,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

The IOC isn’t taking all of the responsibility for preventing match-fixing issues in sports worldwide, however. The organization says that FIFA and (in Europe) UEFA should still be the go-to organizations for whistleblowers who want to combat match-fixing in soccer.

And when it comes to performance enhancing drugs, individuals with information should contact national organizations of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

No “Test” for Match-Fixing

According to Bach, the new hotline is necessary because it is much more difficult to detect when a contest could be fixed as compared to sniffing out cheaters who are taking illegal substances.

“You cannot detect match-fixing and corruption by taking a blood test,” Bach said. “We need the help and assistance of governments and police authorities who have much more power and much more information and more possibilities than sport can have.”

O’Kane agreed with that assessment, saying that education, partnerships and the effective exchange of information is central to how both the ESSA and the IOC want to protect the integrity of sports.

“Credit should go to the IOC for continuing to include all responsible stakeholders in its integrity discussions as the best and only way to be effective in this area,” O’Kane said. “As responsible, regulated betting operators we want to share data on match-fixing and all countries should ratify the Council of Europe Convention, which will allow operators to share confidential data in a protected environment with established national platforms.”