Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Basketball Australia have confirmed to The Sports Integrity Initiative that an investigation into possible illicit betting in basketball matches is currently in the hands of the police, but at this stage they “don’t have much to say” on the issue, over 10 days after allegations were first made public. A spokesperson for the basketball’s national governing in Australia said that the issue had been “flagged” with the “relevant law enforcement agencies” but that they are “waiting on the police to complete their enquiries” before investigating the matter further internally.
“We’re still in the early stages of looking into the reports,” said the Basketball Australia spokesperson. “We flagged the issue with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation and the National Integrity for Sport Unit in the Sports Commission as soon as we knew about it.”
Basketball Australia confirmed that “no action has been taken by Basketball Australia on any individual”.
“When we have something more to say that is concrete, and fact-based, we will, but until then we need to be careful about making any public comment, and let the police do their work,” said the spokesperson.
At this stage in the investigation, despite various rumours, no name nor state in which the alleged infringement occurred has been made public. Basketball Australia confirmed that they could not specify which state the alleged breach occurred.
The Australian Federal Police told The Sports Integrity Initiative that they were “unable to assist” on the issue, referring questions instead to the respective state police. According to Queensland Police Service, a police spokesperson said that it did not appear that their police force was ‘investigating any instances such as this’.
According to Basketball Australia’s Match-Fixing Policy, it is a breach of policy and prohibited conduct for a coach to bet on any competition or event connected with Basketball Australia (Section 3 b. i.). According to Section 5 of the policy (Confidentiality and reporting) in order to maintain the confidentiality of the process, Basketball Australia may not publically announce, comment on or confirm any details of investigations or subsequent hearings or appeals until ‘after the Hearing Panel has notified the Relevant Person, Basketball Australia and any other interested party of its decision’ (Section 5.2 b.).
On allegations of prohibited conduct, as is the case in this instance, under Section 5.1 a. Basketball Australia must ‘establish a Hearing Panel who will have the power to investigate the alleged Prohibited Conduct and determine an appropriate sanction’. However, under Section 5.1 c., the board of Basketball Australia ‘may, in its sole discretion, elect to not refer matters to the Hearing Panel until after it discloses the allegations of Prohibited Conduct to the Police or other such relevant regulatory agency’.
“I expect that if and when the police are able to give us any information – given that we’re not a law enforcement agency they may not be able to – we will then have to have a look at our internal policies and investigate any breaches of policy as well,” said the Basketball Australia spokesperson. “The police will look at the issue from an illegality point of view and we will look at it from a policy point of view and the advice that we have had internally is that we should let the police do their business first so that any Basketball Australia enquiries don’t get in the way of any police enquiries.”
As Basketball Australia have referred the issue to police over concerns of “illegality”, there is speculation that match-fixing is involved, as betting in itself in Australia is not illegal. Under Section 5.3 a. of Basketball Australia’s Match-Fixing Policy, any alleged conduct which is considered ‘by the Board or CEO as a prima facie unlawful offence will be reported to the police force in the jurisdiction the offence is alleged to have occurred and/or the Australian Federal Police.’
Criminal law in Australia is generally administered by individual state jurisdictions; this is the case with match-fixing legislation.
The country-wide Commonwealth Criminal Code Act of 1995 contains no specific criminal offence of match-fixing, but several others criminal offences might apply. Following the endorsement of all Australian sports ministers of a National Policy on Match-Fixing in Sport, with the aim of ‘protecting the integrity of sport’, a number of states and the two major mainland self-governing territories have legislated specifically against match-fixing. Only the states of Tasmania and Western Australia have not.
Allegations of illicit betting by a “high level basketball coach” in Australia first surfaced two weeks ago when David Schwarz, a broadcaster on the Australian radio station SEN (Sports Entertainment Network), stated his suspicions live on air.
In a segment on SEN’s The Grapevine on Friday 12th February, Schwarz said, “I’m hearing and SEN is hearing that a high level basketball coach here in Australia is being implicated in betting on their team losing matches.”
Later the same day, SEN’s website published an article on its website which it said was a ‘brief media statement’ from the governing body. Basketball Australia confirmed the statement over email to The Sports Integrity Initiative.
‘Basketball Australia has been made aware of media reports of alleged inappropriate betting on basketball games,’ reads the statement, from Friday 12th February.
‘Basketball Australia has a well-established policy against betting within our sport and are gravely concerned by these reports. We are currently looking into the matter,’ continued the statement.
‘No further comment will be made at this time.’
On Tuesday 16th February 2016, Andrew Gaze, a radio broadcaster also working for SEN, spoke to Basketball Australia board member David Reid on the programme SEN Afternoons. Andrew Gaze is a former Australian basketball player and also on the Board of Directors of Basketball Australia.
Referring to Schwarz’s earlier comments, Gaze said, “Had I been in my car, I would have nearly driven off the road.”
Mr Reid said that, before Schwarz’s comments, “I knew nothing about it, not a thing. Basketball Australia knew nothing about it. Needless to say they take these accusations extraordinarily seriously. The matter is being referred to the authorities and the authorities are investigating.”
After confirming that the authorities in question were the police, he added: “There has been a lot of rumour and speculation about who it might be. We’re not going to get into that.”
Mr Reid also said that he was “comfortable with the process that they [Basketball Australia] put in place that they do their best to investigate.”
“I have heard rumour and speculation,” said Mr Reid. “But as far as any substance to it all, at this point in time, I don’t have any.”
Mr Reid went on to say that the investigation would probably “take some time”, adding that the betting had probably been conducted to a certain “level of sophistication”. Mr Reid finished the interview by saying that if the allegations proved true, it would be “diabolical” and had the potential to “bring a whole sport down”.
Hoops Heaven, the official Twitter account for basketball at Fairfax Media in Australia, tweeted shortly following Basketball Australia’s initial media statement on 12th February that ‘the betting speculation which prompted Basketball Australia to release a statement is understood to be not related to the NBL’. The NBL (National Basketball League) is the highest men’s professional basketball league in Australia and New Zealand. Basketball Australia refused to comment on the assertions in the tweet.
Allegations surrounding the coach involved and the state in which the infringement occurred have been rife, but neither the federal or state police, or Basketball Australia can confirm these rumours at this stage.