IOC envisages sport betting watchdog

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Sports federations need to join the fight against game-fixing and other betting scams if they want to be part of the Olympics, IOC president Jacques Rogge said Thursday.

Three years ago, the International Olympic Committee asked sports bodies, betting companies and law enforcement agencies to settle on a plan to combat betting fraud. So far the proposed measures have been voluntary and each federation can decide how to implement them.

At an IOC seminar in Lausanne, federations and national Olympic committees agreed to a list of “recommendations,” including banning athletes and officials from betting on their competitions.

Rogge, however, said he expects to see the creation of a global watchdog to oversee sports betting, modeled along the lines of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“I can see very clearly that fighting irregular betting and match-fixing is something that will be required from the federations for them to belong to the Olympic movement,” Rogge told The Associated Press in an interview.

While doping is still the No. 1 threat to the integrity of sports, billion-dollar betting scams run by criminal gangs and unlicensed gambling outfits — mostly in Asia and the Caribbean — are a growing concern, he said.

The IOC found no evidence of fixed results during the Beijing and Vancouver Olympics. “But we should not be naive,” Rogge said. “This is not going to last forever.”

FIFA already monitors soccer matches through a subsidiary called EWS, or Early Warning System. Soccer has been particularly hard hit by game-fixing allegations, with German prosecutors last year opening the biggest European investigation into suspected sports betting scams involving some 200 matches in at least 12 countries.

The IOC set up its own body, International Sports Monitoring, though Rogge insisted ISM shouldn’t be seen as a rival to FIFA’s system. The EWS was “chasing too many goals,” necessitating a monitoring body for the Olympics, he said. Rogge envisions a WADA-style global body “being feasible and desirable in a couple of years.”

Sports betting has become a lucrative source of funds for federations. Many national sports bodies receive support from state-run lotteries, while private betting companies contribute large sums through sponsorship of teams and sports events.

“Betting companies should also contribute to the development of sport like the lotteries do,” Rogge said. “That is also something that we are discussing,” he said, adding that one proposal would be for contributions to become proportionate to the amount of money bet on particular sports.