International Olympic Committee steps up anti-corruption fight for Rio Games

‘Nonsense’ …. John Coates says London is not a ‘Plan B’ for the IOC. Photo: Alex EllinghausenAs the spectre of match-fixing haunts tennis, the International Olympic Committee says it will take unprecedented measures to ensure the Rio Olympics aren’t tainted by gambling or the manipulation of results.

The IOC continues to rate betting, manipulation and corruption as a bigger danger than doping in terms of retaining the integrity of competition. The new regulations are part of the Olympic Agenda 2020 roadmap and will govern all of the international federations competing in Rio.

The Australian Olympic Committee are among the signatories to the sweeping Code, which also couples the IOC-managed IBIS intelligence system to agreements with Interpol and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The Code came to life to relatively little fanfare in late December after it was approved by the IOC executive board. But the revelations about match-fixing suspicions in the world of tennis – also an Olympic sport – have given it fresh significance as the Games countdown slips under 200 days.

The IOC has described the Code as a baseline “regulatory framework defining the different kinds of violations, minimum standards of disciplinary procedures and the scope of sanctions”.

It aims to put a blanket set of regulations in place for all sporting organisations, although bodies are free to stiffen the sanctions, which range from warnings to fines to expulsion and potential life bans.

The Code applies to any accredited athlete or official in Rio 2016, although doesn’t include accredited media, which the AFL has banned from betting on matches during set periods on game day.

It forbids athletes to bet on any competition in which they are competing, the sport in which the compete or any multi-sport competition where they are competing.

Australia already has strict regulations in place for athletes tempted to gamble on events or pass on information that may of value to someone else with a potential investment on the outcome of an event.

Anyone found guilty of a violation in Rio would be instantly kicked off the team and sent home, while a new agreement with athletes for Rio allows the AOC to collect information about gambling activities from third parties, which include various law enforcement agencies.

AOC boss John Coates is already on record backing an independent national sports betting authority acting under Federal legislation with police powers to investigate alleged fraudulent activity.

The scope of attempting to stamp out corruption at the Olympic Games has become a momentous task for Olympic officials, given the sheer size of the event, the differing sports and the numbers of athletes and officials to be policed.

While a small number of Olympic competitors make huge sums of money, like the professional basketballers, tennis players and this time around golfers, the majority are amateurs with unspectacular financial reward.

That makes them the perfect target for fixers looking to  taint Olympic events.

Former IOC boss Jacques Rogge made similar noises about corruption ahead of London 2012, establishing a task force in conjunction with British police and gambling authorities.

But Rio 2016 will be the first Games to operate under a formal Code of conduct as the IOC steps up its fight against the manipulation of contests and illegal gambling activities.

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