LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The International Olympic Committee will meet with governments and other interested organizations in March to discuss illegal betting in sports.
IOC President Jacques Rogge, speaking Thursday at a symposium on the subject, said illegal betting is a threat that needs to be met with the same “seriousness and unity” as doping. He said the IOC is doing more to combat the problem.
“We are strengthening communication channels with all parties,” Rogge said. “This of course includes symposiums such as this and the IOC’s first meeting between the sports movement, governments, public international organizations and sports betting operators on March 1.”
Rogge compared illegal betting to doping.
“While doping remains our No. 1 threat, billion-dollar betting scams run by criminal gangs and unlicensed gambling outfits are a growing concern,” Rogge said at the symposium, hosted by the International Sports Press Association. “And this new scourge needs to be fought with the same seriousness and unity with which we are fighting doping.”
Separately, Rogge wrote in a newspaper opinion piece that the IOC is stepping up its efforts to fight illegal gambling.
“Illegal or irregular betting … 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,” Rogge wrote. “At its worst, it can deter people from participating in sport in the first place.”
Rogge also called on sports bodies and governments around the world to write legislation against illegal betting.
“We are currently in the process of encouraging all our partners in the Olympic Movement to adopt rules that forbid betting on each respective sport,” Rogge wrote. “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.”
The IOC-established International Sports Monitoring was created to monitor the Olympics for suspicious betting activity. Rogge noted there have been no instances of concern yet at the games.
If there is a suspicious case, “we launch an inquiry and the betting companies transfer all the necessary information regarding the bet and the bettor to the IOC. Thankfully, we did not have to activate this system at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 or in Vancouver last year,” Rogge wrote.
Match-fixing and suspicious betting have come up more and more in recent years, particularly in soccer and tennis. The International Tennis Federation has created the Tennis Integrity Unit to help keep its sport clean.