News 14th April 2015

IOC launches integrity roadmap including ‘hotline’

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has launched a whistle-blower hotline for competition manipulation and other ethical issues that threaten the integrity of sport in Lausanne yesterday, at the first meeting of the International Forum for Sports Integrity (IFSI). ‘The web-based hotline is open to athletes, coaches, referees and the public, and guarantees 100% anonymity’, read an IOC statement. ‘Anyone can report suspicious approaches or activities related to competition manipulation and/or infringements of the IOC Code of Ethics or other matters – including financial misconduct or other legal, regulatory and ethical breaches – over which the IOC has jurisdiction’.

The meeting adopted a number of detailed recommendations regarding education and information, intelligence and information and regulation and legislation (click to view). The recommendations centred around calling on governments from all continents to sign and implement the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions (‘CoE Convention’). It was also suggested that the IOC, through its Integrity Betting Intelligence System (IBIS), should head a network of government-created national platforms for sports integrity, as recommended by the CoE Convention.

Another recommendation was that through implementing the CoE convention, national governments should ensure ‘that domestic laws enable criminal investigations and sanctioning of the manipulation of sports competitions when it involves either coercive, corrupt or fraudulent practices’. It was also suggested that sports betting organisations should ‘ensure that their terms and conditions foresee the right to disclose to public authorities and sport bodies any irregular or suspicious activity linked to the manipulation of sports competitions’.

Another recommendation was that the Olympic movement should develop minimum standards, possibly through the form of a Code for the Olympic movement, applicable to all sports organisations regarding the manipulation of sports competitions. These minimum standards could include a prohibition on athletes betting on competitions in which they are involved; a requirement to report suspicious activity; minimum monitoring requirements; protection for whistleblowers; time limits on when referees and officials are announced. These minimum standards would also apply to ensure the transparency of sporting organisations and how they are funded, including the possibility of withdrawal of government funding if steps are not taken to prevent the manipulation of sports competitions.

“We are pleased we could be part of this initiative”, said Mike O’Kane, Chairman of ESSA, which represents regulated gambling operators. “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. They underline the breadth and depth of international support among stakeholders for the IOC’s initiatives in promoting sporting integrity and for joint action to combat match-fixing and other fraudulent activities. Cooperation between all interested parties is crucial.”

“Education, information exchange and partnership building have long been core components of ESSA’s strategy and it is important that these remain the focus”, continued O’Kane. “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. It is vital that we continue to build on this initiative and retain an inclusive, open and transparent evidence-based discussion. As responsible, regulated betting operators we want to share data on match-fixing and all countries should ratify the CoE Convention, which will allow operators to share confidential data in a protected environment with established national platforms. It remains the case that ESSA operators do provide the industry integrity standard when it comes to protecting its customers from match-fixing.”

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