First INTERPOL Integrity in Sport Bi-Weekly Bulletin - 14 - 20 March 2016

It is our pleasure to introduce the first Bi-Weekly Bulletin of INTERPOL’s Crimes in Sport Team, which replaces the previous Weekly Media Recap.    

Pursuant to the recent re-structuring, INTERPOL have created the Crimes in Sport Team, comprising of Integrity in Sport Unit, INTERPOL Match-Fixing Task Force (IMFTF), as well as the Anti-Doping Unit, with a view to providing a one-stop service to our member countries and synergizing our efforts to tackle crimes that jeopardize the integrity in sport.  

You can refer to our new webpage at https://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Crimes-in-sport/Integrity-in-sport.

As a result, the new Bi-weekly Bulletin has been introduced which will provide a more comprehensive coverage on different aspects of crimes in sport, including development on: competition manipulation (or match-fixing), doping, INTERPOL events, feedbacks and contributions from member countries, stakeholders and partners.

To start the first Bi-Weekly Bulletin, which will cover only one week this time, there is a welcome note from Mrs. Roraima A. Andriani, Director for Organized and Emerging Crime, INTERPOL General Secretariat.

The Bi-Weekly Bulletin will be circulated every alternative Monday and the next one will be on 4 April 2016. Submissions on best practices, major developments, new trends, relevant articles from all our partners, to be published on the Bulletin will be welcome.

 

THE FLOOR TO...

Roraima Ana ANDRIANIRoraima Ana ANDRIANI, INTERPOL Director for Organized and Emerging Crime


It is a pleasure to introduce the first Bi-Weekly Bulletin of INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport Unit. When asked to be the first to ‘have the floor’ and introduce this important publication, I accepted without hesitation for two major and simple reasons: I believe in sports and I believe in INTERPOL. Sports are one of the best means to reach all sectors of society regardless of race, color, sex, language, religion, age or status. What do sports represent for you? To me, sports means diversity, respect, solidarity and hard work. It requires integrity, preparing, practicing and teamwork to motivate oneself and others to strive for excellence, even when against all odds As you are reading this, you may recognize that these values parallel police values and ethics. Many of the above principles are common to sports, policing and INTERPOL. In fact, one of the fundamental aspects of INTERPOL’s Constitution, Article 3, establishes that it is forbidden for the Organization to “undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character”, hence, underscoring the importance of neutrality and fairness. This Bulletin, in lieu of the former Weekly Media Recap, will include information on doping, corruption and other criminal phenomena which threaten the integrity of sports. It will keep you updated with the trends on match fixing and doping investigations, modus operandi, good practices and legal requirements worldwide. I trust that our efforts of updating you about the challenges of match-fixing and corruption in sports will be valuable. Going forward, for future editions of this Bulletin, we welcome submissions from our partners. If you would like to have an article or other relevant item of information included in an upcoming Bulletin, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. In closing, I extend congratulations to my staff for this initiative as well as their ongoing efforts to raise awareness and share information amongst all stakeholders of the threats to the integrity of all sports. Thank you for partnering with INTERPOL in creating a strong network for fairness in sports.

 

INVESTIGATIONS

Italy

An Italian prosecutor has told the BBC that more than two dozen leading players should face investigation over links to betting rings. Roberto di Martino told the BBC and BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that their names have appeared in evidence seized from gamblers suspected of fixing matches. They include two players who have been ranked in the world's top 20. So far, only Potito Starace and Daniele Bracciali, two Italians, have been investigated and charged but Di Martino says others should be investigated by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), the sport's anti-corruption watchdog. "Surely if these foreign players were Italian, they would certainly have been at least questioned," Di Martino said. "They should have provided some explanations." He added: "Interestingly, they are not so-called second-tier tennis players, but also players of some importance." Di Martino has been conducting a two-year inquiry into a suspected match-fixing ring involving Italian tennis players and gamblers. However, the London-based TIU, which has come under fire in recent months, issued a statement later Tuesday insisting an investigation into Bracciali and Starace was ongoing and that information received from Di Martino was being assessed. "The Tennis Integrity Unit, supported by the governing bodies of tennis, strongly refutes any suggestion made by the Public Prosecutor in Cremona, Italy, that evidence of match fixing in tennis has been ignored by the TIU," read the statement. "The TIU had been endeavouring to obtain the evidence required to substantiate allegations made against Italian players Daniele Bracciali and Potito Starace from the Prosecutor's office since October 2014." "The TIU had to engage legal counsel in Italy to obtain the information contained in Mr Di Martino's investigation and is now listed as an Injured Party in the ongoing criminal proceedings." "All information received from the Public Prosecutor is being fully and thoroughly assessed, verified and, where appropriate, investigated under the powers of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program”.

Source: AP, "Italian prosecutor calls for match-fixing probe into 'top players'", 16 March 2016, Ten Sport, https://tenplay.com.au/news/2016/03/16/italian-prosecutor-calls-for-match-fixing-probe-into-top-players

South Africa

PSL soccer players to appear before disciplinary committee for alleged match-fixing. Football players of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) suspected of involvement in match-fixing will appear before the league’s disciplinary committee on 30 March. Without naming those suspected of involvement, the league said it took the allegations ‘very seriously and will not leave a stone unturned in its quest to get to the bottom of the issue’. In a statement, the league said it had been provided with information which alleges that certain players and officials registered with the league have been involved in match-fixing and corruption. “We take these allegations very seriously and, as a result, we have pressed charges against those named in the information provided to us,” it said in the statement. The PSL said it had all the confidence in its processes to arrive at a decision in an expeditious and effective manner. The league was not in a position to comment any further on the matter at this stage.

Source: AP, "PSL soccer players to appear before disciplinary committee for alleged match-fixing", 18 March 2016, Alex News, https://alexnews.co.za/73251/psl-soccer-players-to-appear-before-disciplinary-committee-for-alleged-match-fixing/

 

SENTENCES/SANCTIONS

South Africa

Three former officials of the South African Football Association have been banned from the sport in connection with international friendlies played by the national side in 2010, the world governing body FIFA said. Leslie Sedibe, a former SAFA chief executive, was banned for five years and fined 20,000 Swiss francs (£14,000) by FIFA’s Ethics Committee. Steve Goddard and Adeel Carelse, both former heads of the SAFA’s refereeing department, were each banned for two years. The cases were linked to that of the former SAFA executive member and head of referees Lindile Kika, who was banned for six years by Fifa last October. FIFA said that Sedibe, Goddard and Carelse had all infringed ethics rules concerning general rules of conduct, loyalty and disclosure, cooperation and reporting. The investigations were conducted by FIFA’s Ethics Committee along with the security division, which is responsible for fighting match-fixing. A previous FIFA investigation had looked into warm-up matches that South Africa played against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala in May 2010 ahead of the World Cup, which South Africa was hosting.

Source: AP, "Fifa bans three South African officials over pre-World Cup friendlies ", 14 March 2016, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/mar/14/three-south-african-officals-banned-fifa-world-cup-friendlies

LEGISLATION

El Salvador

El Salvador's congress has approved a match-fixing law that would punish officials, players, coaches or referees with as much as six years in prison if convicted and temporarily ban them from their sports. The law reserves the stiffest penalties for officials, referees and coaches. It applies to all sports. Fourteen Salvadoran soccer players received lifetime bans and eight more were suspended for a match-fixing scandal in 2010 and 2011. The scandal involved the national squad's 2-1 loss to the United States in Florida in a 2010 friendly and a 5-0 defeat by Mexico at the 2011 Gold Cup. Match-fixing was not codified as a crime in El Salvador at the time.

Source: AP, "Salvadoran congress passes "sports crime" law", 17 March 2016, Daily Mail, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3497667/Salvadoran-congress-passes-sports-crime-law.html

 

BETTING

Australia

Australia's foreign-owned online corporate bookmakers have rallied against a federal government plan to close a controversial loophole in in-play sports betting, saying it will simply push more Australian punters to bet with unlicensed offshore operators. Canberra is preparing to approve all 19 recommendations contained in the O'Farrell review as part of a sweeping overhaul of Australia's $20 billion plus wagering sector. Human Services Minister Alan Tudge has received widespread support from both backbenchers and cabinet ministers for a four-stage plan to clamp down on in-play betting, which is already illegal, ban credit betting, tackle unlicensed offshore operators and introducing a raft of new consumer protections. The most contested issue within the industry remains in-play betting, where punters wager on a race or sporting contest after it has begun. The practice is banned in Australia over the internet but allowed via telephone calls and William Hill has controversially offered the service to its customers via its "click to call" function, where a voice call is made online.Sources close to Mr Tudge said the government will seek to amend the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act to make it explicit that the use of in-play using the "click to call" loophole is illegal and will be banned until after an election has been held. The minister will likely meet again with stakeholders to assess the merit of liberalising in-play next year. However, the Australian Wagering Council, which represents online bookmakers such as Sportsbet, William Hill, Betfair and Bet365, said the move was a backward step – given punters are already widely using the service – arguing the government should liberalise the service. "The simple truth is Australians will continue to bet in-play via the internet with unlicensed offshore providers until reform is achieved to allow Australian licensed and regulated wagering operators to offer the product," said Ian Fletcher, chief executive of the AWC.

Source: Perry Williams, "Online gaming giants rally against live betting ban", 18 March 2016, The Sidney Morning Herald, https://www.smh.com.au/business/online-gaming-giants-rally-against-live-betting-ban-20160318-gnlrcs.html

United States

March Madness is fully underway and the money spent on betting on brackets adds up to bigger and bigger bucks each year. The American Gaming Association estimates Americans are betting a whopping $9.2 billion on NCAA brackets this year. That's more than double the $4.2 billion people spent on sports gambling last year in Nevada alone.

Source: AP, "Americans spending more on NCAA brackets this year", 18 March 2016, Fox11, https://fox11online.com/sports/college/americans-spending-more-on-ncaa-brackets-this-year

 

DOPING

WADA

Aging runners diagnosed with high blood pressure often resist taking medication, out of pride or fear of side effects. But sports cardiologist Paul Thompson has a strategy for overcoming that resistance. “I tell them there’s a drug I can give them that may have some exercise benefits, that some people believe improves performance,” says Thompson, chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut. Thompson is quick to add that there’s no hard evidence for the performance-enhancing benefits of ACE inhibitors or ARBs, two classes of high-blood-pressure medication. But for many hypertensive runners under his care, lack of proof doesn’t matter: The mere possibility of a competitive edge is enough to persuade them to follow medical recommendations and take a pill. The intersection of athletic performance and cardiovascular drugs fell under scrutiny in recent days when tennis star Maria Sharapova admitted she had tested positive for meldonium, a drug often used to increase blood flow in cases of heart failure. The World Anti-Doping Agency began treating meldonium as a banned substance only this year, and already about 100 athletes have tested positive. In the war on doping, long associated with fountain-of-youth substances such as testosterone and human growth hormone, the case of meldonium suggests that edge-seeking athletes may be turning to drugs typically prescribed to aging cardiovascular patients. Possible further evidence of that is telmisartan, a widely prescribed high-blood-pressure medication. In recent years, doping blogs have promoted telmisartan as a possible performance enhancer. In 2015, WADA added telmisartan to the list of drugs it is monitoring, a possible first step toward banishment. Before it became banned this year, meldonium was on the agency’s watch list.

Source: Kevin Helliker and Sara Germano, "A New Front in the War on Doping", 18 March 2016, The Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-new-front-in-the-war-on-doping-1458255032

 

ODDS AND ENDS

Turkey

Turkish supporters and fans from all around the world took to social media to call on UEFA to analyze the controversial match between Fenerbahçe and Braga and Croatian referee Ivan Bebek's decisions. Even the Croatian press has criticized the referee. Fenerbahçe's dreams of a Europa League title were reduced to rubble, as the Turkish powerhouse ended Thursday's game with Braga with eight men as they gave up a 1-0 first-leg advantage in a 4-1 defeat to Braga, which ended the Turkish side's involvement with goals from Ahmed Hassan, a Josue penalty and further efforts from Nikola Stojiljkovic and Rafa Silva. However, Turkish sports fans, media and the public have not been talking about the match or football but instead have been talking about one person: Croatian referee Ivan Bebek. The match saw harsh penalty decisions: eight yellow and three red cards against the Turkish team. The referee's dubious decisions started with a yellow card he showed to Fenerbahçe midfielder Mehmet Topal in the ninth minute when he was clearly fouled by Braga's Nikola Vukcevic, but the referee decided that it was in fact simulated by Topal.

Source: Hakan BA, "Turkey talks ‘Ivan, the Terrible’", 18 March 2016, Daily Sabah, https://www.dailysabah.com/football/2016/03/18/turkey-talks-ivan-the-terrible

 

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. Key stakeholders have been invited to discuss about future strategies in combatting Competition Manipulation.

Qatar

3-6 April 2016: the "Underground Economy Conference" will take place in Doha and will be hosted by the Ministry of Interior of Qatar. It is organized by the Ministry of Interior, the team Cymru and INTERPOL. The conference will highlight the fight against doping, true challenge for integrity in sports.

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