INTERPOL Integrity in Sport Bi-Weekly Bulletin - 4-17 April 2016

This is the third Bi-Weekly Bulletin of INTERPOL’s Crimes in Sport Team, which replaces the previous Weekly Media Recap. 

In this bulletin, the floor is given to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which is preparing the world’s largest event, the Rio Summer Olympic Games 2016, through constant training efforts in partnership with INTERPOL. This close cooperation leads to having all major events of all Olympic sports as part of the IOC Integrity Betting Intelligence System (IBIS).

For the first two weeks of April, there have been several investigations and sanctions around the world, including football match-fixing in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom, along with the removal from competition an official Japanese badminton player found guilty of illegal betting. Moreover, a prosecutor requested that the current coach of Italy and future Chelsea manager to be suspended and fined for match-fixing.

In terms of legislation, Germany is strengthening its Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch) to effectively combat sports betting fraud and manipulation of professional competitions. In the meantime, New Zealand’s central betting agency is reforming rules to accept wagers during horse races under a reform package to tackle offshore betting.

Worldwide, a recent report which has been released last Friday shows that tennis accounts for 9 out of 11 suspicious betting patterns.

Meldonium case has been recently under the spotlight of the mass media. There are different discussions on whether it is a Performance Enhancing Drug; the reasons of its inclusion on WADA’s Prohibited List; a possible amnesty for sportsmen involved in the doping scandal and the exclusion of Sharapova from 2016 Rolland Garros tournament.

 

THE FLOOR TO...

Paquerette GIRARD ZAPPELLIM.me Pâquerette GIRARD-ZAPPELLI, International Olympic Committee (IOC), Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer

We are four months away from the biggest sporting event on the planet, the Rio Summer Olympic Games 2016. Preparations are well underway including the establishment of a Rio2016 Joint Integrity Intelligence Unit between the IOC and Rio2016 Organising Committee with the support of Brazilian law enforcement and INTERPOL. Through the IOC-INTERPOL Global Capacity Building and Training programme that launched in June 2015, we have been able to deliver training in Norway, Peru, Canada, Singapore, the Netherlands and this week in Belgium we will conduct a Partnership Development Meeting. We now have a network of Integrity Single Points of Contact (SPOCs) within every Olympic International Sports Federation. All major events of all Olympic sports are now part of the IOC Integrity Betting Intelligence System (IBIS). In December 2015, we issued the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions. This Code aims to harmonise sports rules in relation to competition manipulation based on minimum standards; to harmonise definitions in line with the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions; and to establish minimum violations and minimum standards for disciplinary procedures in order to enable mutual recognition of sanctions. Model Rules have been developed to assist sports organisations in implementing the Code. We’re working with governments, law enforcement, betting entities and sports organisations around the world to ensure strong legal and sports regulatory frameworks, and that collaboration between sport and law enforcement is enabled. Through our partnership with INTERPOL, we aim to continue Capacity Building and Training for effective investigations of crimes related to sport and breaches of sports regulations and so that actions to Recognise, Resist and Report competition manipulation are implemented. We need to continue our efforts to build firewalls around sport to keep out crime and protect clean athletes.

See further:

 

INVESTIGATIONS

Sierra Leone

The Committee for match fixing has told press that 10 people are expected to face the committee for now but there is possibility that more people will face the committee if there is evidence against them. The enquiry committee also said it has served notices of the allegation(s) made against persons of interest and persons who are expected to aid the enquiry. These persons have been informed that they are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. They have also been informed of their right to be given the opportunity to be heard. They also stated that those who will face the committee will do it in open before the press but the witness will not be exposed because of security reason. Chairman of the committee, Rtd. Major Palo Conteh said they will face the committee because of widespread allegations of match fixing and/or match manipulation against officials and players of the national football team at both U-20 and senior level during international matches played on diverse dates. He said on the basis of these allegations, the Executive Committee of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) which is tasked with the responsibility to maintain probity and integrity in the administration and management of the game of football has earlier duly constituted a committee to inquire into the said allegation pursuant to section 55 of the constitution of SLFA 2012. He also revealed that “we have divided the allegations into themes so as to properly deal with the issues raised without duplicating them. The themes are as follows. Merdeka U-20 competition in Malaysia held in October 2008 which includes Malaysia Versus Sierra Leone, played on the 17th October 2008 and Afghanistan verse Sierra Leone played on the 19th October 2008. Sierra Leone versus Syria International (friendly) played on the 5th June 2009; Cape Verde versus Sierra Leone 2013; South Africa versus Sierra Leone 8th October 2010, and referees trip to Brazil. Chairman said that they will be independent, impartial and dispassionate during the course of the enquiry and shall be driven on the sole motive of truth seeking. And they will also try to conclude the process within the shortest possible time without diluting the thoroughness of the process and protecting the rights of persons accused of match fixing and /match manipulation. And at the end of the proceedings, the committee shall make recommendations on the basis of its findings to the executive committee, stating the grounds of the decision, the provisions on which the said decision is based, the terms of the decision and give notice of the channels of appeal, if any party is aggrieved by its findings."

Source: Bernard Turay, "Sierra Leone Sports: 10 to be investigated over match fixing", 14 April 2016, Awoko, https://awoko.org/2016/04/14/sierra-leone-sports-10-to-be-investigated-over-match-fixing/

United Kingdom

The Football Association of Wales have launched an investigation into claims of match-fixing in our national league, officials have confirmed. The probe has begun after Welsh Premier outfit Port Talbot, who have a proud history and once played in the Europa League, surprisingly lost 5-0 to joint bottom club Rhyl at the weekend. Port Talbot's board of directors have called a meeting with their players for Wednesday evening when the claims will be discussed. It is understood large sums of money went on already relegated Rhyl to be leading at half-time and full-time at odds of 8-1. Port Talbot want to know if any of their players were involved in any of the betting, which is the reason for calling the meeting. Footballers in the Welsh Premier sign a declaration at the start of the season preventing them from placing money on the outcome of matches in the league.

Source: Paul Abbandonato, "FAW launch investigation into shock claims of match-fixing in Welsh football", 13 April 2016, Wales Online, https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/football/faw-launch-investigation-shock-claims-11179471

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

Italy

A prosecutor requested a suspended six-month match-fixing sentence for current Italy coach and future Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on Tuesday. Prosecutor Roberto Di Martino also requested a fine of 8,000 euros ($9,000) for the coach as Conte’s fast-track trial began Conte is accused of sports fraud in 2010-11 when he was coach of Siena. The match under investigation is Siena’s 1-0 win at Albinoleffe in May 2011. Siena’s 2-2 draw at Novara, also in May 2011, was dropped from the inquiry. Conte, who has denied wrongdoing, served a four-month ban during the 2012-13 season - when he was at Juventus - for failing to report fixing at Siena. Conte, who was named as Chelsea’s next manager on Monday, did not attend the hearing. He’ll move to Chelsea after this year’s European Championship. The prosecutor requested a four-month suspended sentence for Conte’s longtime assistant Angelo Alessio for his role regarding the Albinoleffe match. Alessio is expected to join Conte at Chelsea. Rulings are expected by mid-May, which would allow Conte to get the trial out of the way before Euro 2016 begins the following month. Conte’s lawyer, Leonardo Cammarata, said there was “nothing surprising” about the prosecutor’s request and that the coach’s other attorneys would prepare to contest the accusations: “We’re confident in our arguments,” Cammarata said.

Source: AP, "Match-fixing prosecutor seeks 6-month sentence for Conte", 5 April 2016, Washington Times, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/apr/5/match-fixing-prosecutor-seeks-6-month-sentence-for/

Japan

Olympic medal hope Kento Momota has been kicked off Japan’s badminton team for the Games this summer for gambling at an illegal casino, officials said on Sunday. The Nippon Badminton Association threw the book at the 21-year-old world number two, banning him from competition indefinitely, after an emergency meeting to decide on the player’s fate. Teammate Kenichi Tago, also found guilty of placing illegal bets, was removed from the organisation’s official player list for an indefinite period. Momota became the first Japanese man to win a world championship medal with a bronze in Jakarta last August and had been tipped to challenge for the title in Rio...Gambling is largely illegal in Japan. The incident comes after a betting scandal that sent shock waves through the country’s most popular sport, baseball, just as it is bidding for inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Momota admitted visiting a casino six times and gambling away 500,000 yen (around $4,500). Momota’s absence in Rio will be a major blow to Japan’s medal hopes. He backed up his strong showing at the world championships by becoming the first Japanese player to win the Super Series Masters Finals in Dubai last December. People found guilty of gambling in Japan can face jail terms of up to five years.

Source: AP, "Badminton ace Momota banned from competition indefinitely over illegal gambling", 10 April 2016, Japan Today, https://www.japantoday.com/category/sports/view/badminton-ace-momota-banned-from-competition-indefinitely-over-illegal-gambling

 

LEGISLATION

Germany

The German Federal Government has proposed changes to the Strafgesetzbuch (German Criminal Code “GCC”) to effectively combat sports betting fraud and manipulation of professional competitions. German Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, emphasized: “The current sanctions are insufficient. Fraud and manipulation must be combatted by the means of criminal law!” The introduction of the new draft legislation was deemed necessary as the “general” provisions against fraud (§ 263) and on taking and giving bribes in commercial practice (§ 299) are often ineffective and not covering all kinds of criminal behavior in sport. Furthermore, involved athletes can currently only be held liable for aiding (§ 27) - if at all. The draft proposes mainly two new criminal offences punishing sports betting fraud (§ 265c) and manipulation of professional competitions (§265d) with a fine or imprisonment. The new statutory offences will capture referees, athletes, coaches and equated personsfor taking advantages and everybody for giving. Hence, the legislation will have a huge impact on all kinds of sportsmen but also on the entire sports and betting industry. Last but not least, sponsors and investors need to know criminal law implications by dealing with sportsmen and their environment. The draft legislation is part of a worldwide agenda to protect the integrity of sports and financial interests in light of recent betting and manipulation scandals. The Declaration of Berlin by the UNESCO from May 2013 and the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions by the Council of Europe from September 2014 called for measures against the tempering with sports events. Already last December new anti-doping legislation entered into force in Germany, making it i.a. illegal to produce, traffic, place into circulation or prescribe doping substances for the use in sport as well as consuming doping substances in order to gain an unfair advantage in organized sports competitions. Considering the huge impact and relevance of sports in both society and economy a more effective means to combat sports betting fraud and the manipulation of professional competitions are long overdue. The proposed changes would make it easier to hold colluding parties criminally responsible for their actions. Thus, they might contribute to the preservation - or in some cases: recovery - of the integrity of sports and the economic interests of the involved parties. However, the legislative procedure will take its time until the new laws will be in force.

Source: Guido Kleve, "Fair Play! New Draft Legislation Punishing Sports Betting Fraud and the Manipulation of Professional Competitions", 14 April 2016, Lexology, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=6e5e0257-6c90-413e-95d3-e1747b161e9f

 

BETTING

New Zealand

New Zealand’s central betting agency will be able to take bets on more events and also accept wagers during horse races under a reform package to tackle offshore betting. Many offshore gambling operators use New Zealand racing and sporting event data for betting purposes, but do not contribute to the costs of producing the racing or sport activities from which they profit. Racing Minister Nathan Guy is seeking public feedback on proposed changes to the Racing Act, after a report released last year by a working group found that a growing number of New Zealanders were gambling through offshore betting agencies. It said if no steps were taken, potential revenue would continue to be lost to offshore gambling operators. The country’s state-legislated TAB will be given more scope around betting under the proposed reforms. “In 2015, about 40,000 New Zealanders turned over $NZ518 million offshore with $58 million in losses – this represents potential lost revenue of up to $45 million for local racing and sports organisations,” Guy said. By law, the New Zealand Racing Board is the only New Zealand-based provider of racing and sports betting via the TAB. The board distributes any profits back to racing and sports in New Zealand. “This system ensures any proceeds from gambling support the local sporting and racing activities that make that gambling possible in the first place, and that punters operate within a regulatory framework that minimises gambling harm,” he said. “Neither of these things occur when people bet with offshore providers.” The working group developed proposals aimed at making the TAB more competitive, and to help ensure that offshore providers paid their fair share of support back to local racing and sport groups.

Source: AP, "New Zealand would allow bets during horse races", 17 April 2016, Horsetalk, https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2016/04/17/nz-reforms-bets-horse-races/#axzz46BPKoQK8

United Kingdom

Tennis accounted for nine of 11 suspicious betting patterns flagged up by a leading sports gambling watchdog in the first quarter of 2016. ESSA's figures for 2015 showed that nearly three-quarters of all suspicious events in sport were tennis matches, and the numbers released on Friday revealed that ratio has increased. One basketball match and one football match were the only other alerts issued to the relevant authorities in the first three months of 2016. But the number of suspicious tennis matches has reduced, with 2015's figures showing 17 in the first quarter, 19 in the second, 13 in the third and 24 in the fourth. Tennis' governing bodies commissioned an independent review into the sport's anti-corruption practices earlier this year following allegations that evidence of match-fixing was not properly investigated. The review is being overseen by Adam Lewis QC and is expected to take at least 12 months, with the sport having committed to implementing any recommendations.

Source: AP, "Tennis matches top suspicious betting pattern alerts to sports gambling watchdog", 15 April 2016, Sport.co, https://www.sport.co.uk/tennis/tennis-matches-top-suspicious-betting-pattern-alerts-to-spor/7465640/#mmg2x770zyUW0CSB.99

 

DOPING

Russia

Athletes caught using meldonium could avoid a ban after anti-doping chiefs said it was not clear how long it takes the drug to leave the body. WADA announced in September that it was adding the heart disease medicine to its banned list from 1 January. Since the start of the year, there have been 172 positive tests. But numerous athletes have claimed they stopped taking the drug last year, prompting many to question how long the drug can stay in an athlete's system. "There is currently a lack of clear scientific information on excretion times," the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said in new guidance distributed on Monday. It said that athletes might be able to show that they "could not have known or suspected" meldonium would still be in their systems having taken it before it was banned. "In these circumstances, WADA considers that there may be grounds for no fault or negligence on the part of the athlete," added the guidance. On Wednesday, WADA issued a statement saying the new guidance was "not an amnesty" for athletes and they must still explain to anti-doping authorities how the substance was in their body…Last week, the International Biathlon Union said it would not be ruling on any cases until more was known about excretion rates for meldonium. WADA's new guidance acknowledges that trace elements of meldonium can remain in the body "for a few months" if somebody has been taking the drug for a sustained period...

Source: Matt Slater, "Meldonium users may escape bans after WADA announcement", 13 April 2016, BBC, https://www.bbc.com/sport/36034369

 

INTEGRITY IN SPORT EVENTS

Belgium

20-21 April 2016: the 8th INTERPOL Match Fixing Task Force Meeting will take place in Brussels. In this occasion investigators of all member countries have been invited to meet and discuss about match fixing and illegal betting.

22 April 2016: a Partnership Development Meeting (PDM) will take place in Brussels. It is organized by INTERPOL and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Key Belgian stakeholders have been invited to discuss about future strategies in combatting Competition Manipulation.

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