Australian first prosecution of friends who fixed eSports game
A bunch of baby-faced gaming geeks are behind Australia’s first prosecution of esports match-fixing.
Victoria Police spruiked of the big bust and how such offending would come with “serious consequences” when swooping on the young Melbourne men following a 13-month investigation.
Their crime — conduct corrupting a betting outcome — carries a maximum penalty of 10 years jail.
But the Herald Sun can reveal they will not spend a night behind bars nor have a conviction marked against their name for their fraud.
Brothers Lewis and Elliott Faure, along with their mates Matthew Perri and James Kotsopoulos have instead been placed on the magistrates’ court’s diversion program.
If they are of good behaviour for six months, the charges will be wiped.
Police investigated the first-time crooks in March last year after a betting agency tip-off to suspicious wager activity on season 30 of the Mountain Dew League’s tournament involving popular shooter game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit detectives linked the betting scandal on the global multiplayer video game competition to the Victorian-based team, For The Alliance (FTA), in which Perri was a player.
It was quickly uncovered the players had colluded to deliberately throw two matches they had their mates bet on, sharing in the spoils.
Perri, 21, from Mill Park, Kotsopoulos, 20, from South Morang, and Mill Park brothers Elliott Faure, 21, and Lewis Faure, 23, made just under $10,000 profit.
In a private Facebook group chat titled Rolling Loud, they discussed their cunning plan and the easy money they could rake in.
When concerns were raised about being caught and too many people knowing, Perri replied: “Legit if I make 2k from this I don’t care.”
When Kostopoulos messaged the group to say his mother was asking about his money transfers, another punter replied: “Tell her to join the family business ... match fixing.”
Perri was a member of the Victorian-based esport team “For the Alliance”, also known as Cheese Limited and Off the Grid, who had signed up for the Mountain Dew League.
Court documents reveal Perri organised to deliberately lose the team’s third match of the tournament on January 23 last year against competitors, Skyfire.
The day before he told Kotsopoulos of the plan, transferring him $700 to put a bet on for him, before discussing what betting odds were on offer
“Don’t worry, I’m making sure we lose,” Perri told him.
The group later bragged about their winnings, Kotsopoulos saying he had made $5200 profit, while others thanked Perri for the “easy money”.
Sportsbet paid out $9150 to Kotsopoulos, who transferred $1865 to Perri.
Faure scored $1480 in winnings from Bet365 — a $740 profit. He also got a further $916, of which $566 was profit, from Sportsbet.
On February 14, they again placed bets on FTA losing its match against Ex Paradox Gaming, even specifying the margin to get better odds and a bigger payout.
This time Lewis Faure got onboard as Perri’s bidder, placing three separate bets, totalling $960, on BetEasy.
Following the major sting, Assistant Police Commissioner Neil Paterson said the motivation for the offending was “greed” and “money”.
He said police were seeing more young men in high school and university getting involved in gambling and corruption offences, with such offending having “serious consequences for them”.
Source: Rebekah Cavanagh, 29 December 2020, Herald Sun eSports
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Bets, lies and table tennis: How police pinged an international pong
As traditional sporting events shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, Australian sports betting outlets noticed more and more local punters seeking out obscure international sports to wager on.
Gamblers were suddenly turning to soccer in Russia, volleyball in Asia, and even esport contests involving computer games.
But nothing was attracting the punters quite like table tennis. In Ukraine, Russia, and across Europe, leading international players duked it out in tournaments televised online and designed to attract global punters.
But along with an influx of betting on table tennis, Australian wagering agencies detected something else unusual.
The agency data crunchers, who use computer analysis to detect unusual betting patterns, uncovered a pattern of curiously consistent winning among certain gamblers down Australia's east coast.
'Men Morning Australia'
The data suggested someone either was an astute punter who defied all statistical norms, had a crystal ball designed for international table tennis or knew in advance the outcome of certain matches.
So the nation's newest sports corruption watchdog, Sports Integrity Australia, and the NSW Organised Crime Squad were alerted. And overseas gaming authorities were also detecting anomalies.
In June, United States gaming regulators cited match-fixing concerns when banning betting on table tennis matches being held in Ukraine. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement also banned betting on international matches held in any country and involving six players, whom they named.
Also in June, magazine Forbes ran an online story that described how matches in Ukraine were "nakedly timed to meet betting peak times in various parts of the world", with names such as "2020-03-14 Men Morning Australia", "2020-03-04 Men Evening Africa", "2020-03-13 Men Evening Europe".
The article also noted how Ukraine's Setka Cup required competitors to take a lie-detector test to ensure they didn't cheat. International money transfers provided other clues.
NSW detectives have tracked betting trails tied to money remittance involving about $500,000. Some of the funds appeared to tie back to an address in Newcastle, the home of a former Australian table tennis champion who had trained in Europe and had once been considered a 2012 Olympic hopeful.
On Wednesday morning, organised crime detectives more accustomed to arresting money launderers and drug traffickers raided nine properties linked to former top Australian player Adam Green, and arrested him.
He has been charged with using corrupt conduct information to bet on an event and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime with the intent to conceal. Green faces a possible jail sentence of 20 years if convicted.
NSW Police Organised Crime Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Martin Fileman said police will allege Green was the head of the betting syndicate and used "his inside knowledge to gain information about table tennis matches in Ukraine that had a predetermined outcome".
"In other words, they knew who was going to win the match, before they put the bets on," he said.
"We can show, through evidence gained during the strike force, that direct money transfers from the head of the syndicate [were sent] to people very, very closely linked to these table tennis games in Ukraine."
Police will also allege Green used a number of betting accounts in his name and those of a number of associates to place bets on the games. Further charges are expected to be laid against people in NSW.
"We can show direct money transfers from that money he received, probably about a quarter of a million dollars that go back to persons who are very closely linked to those games," Superintendent Fileman said.
He added Green's personal gain from the funds was alleged to be about a quarter of a million dollars. Fixing matches
The raids in NSW would likely not have happened save for two developments. The first had happened in Victoria years earlier. Table tennis at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Table tennis at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.Credit:Steve Baccon
In 2013, the Victoria Police's future top cop, then deputy commissioner Graham Ashton, decided to make combating corruption in sport one of his legacies as an officer. Ashton, a former federal policeman, had been influenced by former colleagues who had gone on to work at the international soccer federation, FIFA, and Interpol fighting European match-fixing rings.
In September 2013, he helped Victorian detectives uncover a match-fixing operation involving Victoria's Premier League soccer competition. At the time, Ashton alleged more than $2 million had been wagered by a notorious European criminal syndicate on fixed matches in Melbourne involving the Southern Stars Football Club.
"We've been saying consistently this is a major threat to Australian sport," Ashton said at the time.
In the months and years after the arrests and charging of several tier-2 Victorian soccer players, Ashton convened sports corruption conferences with state, federal and international police counterparts and resourced a Sports Integrity Unit in the force to operate like an organised-crime busting taskforce. It was told to use phone taps and other tools to uncover wrongdoing.
It also began to harvest international betting and sports corruption intelligence, including by encouraging sports betting agencies to share data with local law enforcement.
In NSW in 2014, the police organised crime taskforce announced it was following Victoria's lead, having gathered intelligence that overseas match-fixers were targeting local matches.
A new pattern
In 2019, Victorian detectives busted an alleged international esports fixing ring and, earlier this year, the fixing of matches at international tennis tournaments in Brazil and Egypt dating back to 2018.
The penalties faced by match-fixers when convicted in local Australian courts is often paltry – suspended sentences and fines – but Ashton's premise was always that the goal was something far greater than punishing the perpetrators: it was about protecting fairness in sport.
Another zealot with the same mantra was former federal police organised crime Assistant Commissioner David Sharpe, who was appointed to head anti-doping agency ASADA in August 2017 and who, a decade before, had managed the Canberra Raiders.
After becoming ASADA's chief, Sharpe tried to fix a gap in Australia's sports integrity regime caused by a lack of cross border co- operation between sporting codes, agencies and betting outfits.
After former NSW judge James Wood found the same problems in an inquiry in March 2018, the federal government in 2019 accepted Wood's recommendations to create a new national agency. Sharpe was appointed on July 1 to head Sport Integrity Australia and immediately began working with Ashton's sports integrity unit, the NSW police force's organised crime squad, and sporting codes and agencies across the nation.
As COVID-19 slowed down or stopped wagering on the AFL, NRL, and A-league, online bookmakers noticed that major online bookmakers including SportsBet and TABtouch opened markets on international table tennis tournaments, including Moscow's Liga Pro and Ukraine's Setka Cup. Betting markets grew, but so did concerns among the agencies.
It was this concern that led detectives to Green's Newcastle home about 6am on Wednesday.
In the world of online punting there are no borders. And authorities fighting to protect fairness in sport are now roaming freely too.
In Canberra, as Green was raided by NSW police, Sport Integrity Australia was preparing to brief European authorities about the case. Arrests overseas are possible, official sources said.
Whatever the ultimate outcome, the borders that once shielded suspected match-fixers from the attention of parochial law enforcement no longer offer the same protection.
Source: 16 December 2020, TSMH Table Tennis
Champions League ref implicated in match-fixing case
Czech referee Pavel Kralovec, who officiates in the Champions League, has been implicated in a local match-fixing scandal, Czech media said Wednesday.
The case involves former Czech Football Association (FACR) deputy head Roman Berbr, who has been in custody over suspected match-fixing since October.
Citing police wiretaps, the DNES broadsheet said Berbr had called Kralovec ahead of July’s Czech Cup final, in which Sparta Prague beat Slovan Liberec 2-1 to reach the Europa League group stage.
“Very simply, I need just one political thing, OK? You will understand. Josef Krula stopped by on Monday,” Berbr said, according to the wiretap.
Krula is Sparta’s sports manager and a former referee.
Kralovec, who answered that he did understand, came under fire after the game as he had notably refused to send off Sparta midfielder Martin Frydek for stepping on an opponent, despite calls from the video referee.
On Tuesday night, the 43-year-old Kralovec managed the Champions League game pitting Chelsea against Krasnodar.
The FACR said Wednesday it had cut Kralovec from the list of referees for professional Czech leagues until the end of the year.
Sparta, who have lost a chance to advance from the Europa League Group H also comprising AC Milan, Lille and Celtic Glasgow, have denied any wrongdoing and said they want “thorough investigation” of the case.
Berbr was one of 19 people detained by police in October as part of an organised group in the match-fixing case, four of whom have ended up in custody.
He stepped down from his position as a result.
A 66-year-old former referee, Berbr held his post since 2013 and according to local media has been pulling the strings in Czech football for years.
Media have made allegations over Berbr in relation to corruption cases and bullying at the FACR, but he has never been charged.
His wife Dagmar Damkova, the first female referee in the Czech Republic, stepped down from a post on the UEFA referees committee following the charges.
Source: 9 December 2020, Fox Sports Football
Algerian tennis player banned for life
Algerian tennis player Aymen Ikhlef has been banned for life from the sport after an investigation by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) uncovered multiple breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP) rules by the player. The player has also been fined $100,000.
The disciplinary case was heard by Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer Richard McLaren. He found that Mr Ikhlef made 10 breaches of the TACP. The subsequent sanction means that from 11th December 2020, the player is permanently prohibited from playing in or attending any tennis event authorised or sanctioned by the governing bodies of tennis.
Mr Ikhlef who had a highest ATP singles ranking of 1739, was found guilty of four instances of match fixing, two instances of soliciting other players not to use their best efforts, three instances of failure to report a corrupt approach and one charge of failing to co-operate with the TIU investigation.
The breaches of the Tennis Anti-corruption Programme (TACP) that Mr Ikhlef has been found guilty of are:
D.1.d of the 2016 TACP: “No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome or any other aspect of any Event”.
D.1.e of the 2016 TACP: “No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, solicit or facilitate any Player to not use his or her best efforts in any Event”.
D.2.a.i of the 2016 TACP: “In the event any Player is approached by any person who offers or provides any type of money, benefit or Consideration to a Player (i) influence the outcome or any other aspect of any Event, or (ii) provide Inside Information, it shall be the Player’s obligation to report such incident to the TIU as soon as possible.”
Section F.2.b / D.2.c of the 2017 TACP: “All Covered Persons must co-operate fully with investigations conducted by the TIU including giving evidence at hearings, if requested. After a Covered Person received a TIU request for an initial interview or otherwise becomes aware of any TIU investigation involving the Covered Person, the Covered Person shall (i) preserve and not tamper with, damage, disable, destroy or otherwise alter any evidence (including any personal devices described in Section F.2.c.i.) or any other information related to any Corruption Offense and (ii) not solicit, facilitate or advise any other person to fail to preserve, tamper with, damage, disable, destroy or otherwise alter any evidence or other information related to any Corruption Offense.”
The Tennis Integrity Unit is an initiative of the Grand Slam Board, the International Tennis Federation, the ATP and the WTA and established to promote, encourage, enhance and safeguard the integrity of professional tennis worldwide. From 1 January 2021, the TIU will become a new, independent body - the International Tennis Integrity Agency.
Source: 14 December 2020, Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU)
Dota 2 Team Newbee Banned From Valve Events For Match Fixing
Dota 2 team Newbee, along with their entire roster, has been permanently banned from participating in future Valve events for match fixing, as confirmed in an announcement today.
The reason behind the ban of Newbee is the alleged involvement of the team in a match fixing scandal. The ban is effective as of January 1st, 2021.
The members of team Newbee who received the ban include the following players:
Xu “Moogy” Han Yin “Aq” Rui
Wen “Wizard” Lipeng Yan “Waixi” Chao Zeng “Faith” Hongda
The ban likely comes after an in-depth investigation on the alleged match-fixing scandal against Avengers in the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor Qualifiers.
For the unaware, Newbee are one of the most popular teams in the professional Dota 2 scene and the winners of The International 4. They also attained the second place in TI 7.
What Is Match Fixing in Dota2?
Match fixing in any competitive game is when one team intentionally throws a match, usually in exchange of money. Other instances include a certain player betting against his own game and throwing for some extra money.
Match fixers often tend to throw selective bets (like first 10 kills) rather than the entire game to make it harder for people to find out for certain if they’re throwing matches.
Match fixing is growing increasingly common not only in Dota 2, but other esports as well. While fans may find Newbee’s ban hard to digest, it’s certain to work as an example for players looking to fix games and discourage them from doing so.
Source: 3 January 2021, Talk Esport eSports
EGYPTIAN TENNIS PLAYER BANNED FOR THREE YEARS
Egyptian tennis player Mostafa Hatem has been handed a three-year ban from the sport, following an investigation by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU). Mr Hatem admitted two breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP) rules and in addition to the ban, a year of which is suspended, he has also been given a suspended fine of $3,000.
Mr Hatem’s case was ruled on by Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer Jane Mulcahy QC. Taking into account the player’s admission of guilt, she ruled the player is banned from playing in or attending any tennis event authorised or sanctioned by the governing bodies of tennis until 8 October 2022.
Mr Hatem had a highest ATP ranking of 1556 and admitted to the following breaches of the TACP:
D.2.a.i: “In the event any Player is approached by any person who offers or provides any type of money, benefit or Consideration to a Player to (i) influence the outcome or any other aspect of any Event, or (ii) provide Inside Information, it shall be the Player’s obligation to report such incident to the TIU as soon as possible.”
D.1.d: “No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome or any other aspect of the Event.”
The Tennis Integrity Unit is an initiative of the Grand Slam Board, the International Tennis Federation, the ATP and the WTA and established to promote, encourage, enhance and safeguard the integrity of professional tennis worldwide. From 1 January 2021, the TIU will become part of the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA).
Source: 21 December 2020, ITIA Tennis
French line umpire banned for betting on tennis matches
The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has confirmed that David Rocher, a French tennis line umpire has been banned from officiating for 18 months (with four months suspended), after breaching betting rules laid out in the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP).
Mr Rocher was charged with placing eleven bets on tennis between January and October 2019 and a further charge of not co- operating with the TIU investigation. He admitted the first charge and contested the second.
The case was ruled on by Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer Ian Mill QC, who found that Mr Rocher did not fully co-operate with the investigation and accordingly would be sanctioned for six months for the betting offences and 18 months (with four suspended) for failure to fully co-operate. The bans will run concurrently, meaning from the date of the ruling (6 December 2020) until 6 February 2022, Mr Rocher is prohibited from officiating in or attending any tennis event authorised or sanctioned by the governing bodies of tennis. In addition, he was fined $5000, with $4000 suspended.
The breaches of the Tennis Anti-corruption Programme (TACP) that Mr Rocher has been found guilty of are:
D.1.a: “No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, wager on the outcome or any other aspect of any Event or any other tennis competition”
F.2.b: “All Covered Persons must cooperate fully with investigations conducted by the TIU including giving evidence at hearings, if requested. Even in the case where a Covered Person is represented by a legal counsel, the Covered Person is still personally responsible for ensuring that they cooperate fully with the investigation. The Covered Person shall be deemed not to have cooperated if the Covered Person’s legal counsel interferes with a TIU investigation.”
The Tennis Integrity Unit is an initiative of the Grand Slam Board, the International Tennis Federation, the ATP and the WTA and established to promote, encourage, enhance and safeguard the integrity of professional tennis worldwide. From 1 January 2021, the TIU will become a new, independent body - the International Tennis Integrity Agency.
Source: 9 December 2020, Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU)
Badminton: Russia's Khakimov banned for five years over betting, fixing offences
(Reuters) - Russian doubles badminton player Nikita Khakimov has received a five-year ban after being found guilty of offences relating to “betting, wagering and irregular match results”, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said on Wednesday.
The BWF opened an investigation against Khakimov after obtaining a statement from a whistleblower, who claimed the shuttler had approached him to manipulate match results at the European Teams Championships held in Feb. 2018.
An independent panel found Khakimov to be in breach of BWF’s integrity regulations, including approaching a player and offering money to manipulate a match, betting on badminton games and “deliberately destroying evidence of a corruption offence to conceal from the BWF”.
Khakimov, 32, was part of the Russian men’s team that won the bronze medal at the 2020 European Team Championships.
The panel has decided to not impose a fine on Khakimov, saying the length of the suspension would effectively end his playing career.
“As badminton was his only purported source of income, the suspension would deprive him of the possibility to earn money from his chosen profession,” the panel added.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge
Source: 23 December 2020, Reuters Badminton
Sierra Leone players cleared of match-fixing but 'damage is done'
Former Sierra Leone internationals Samuel Barlay and Ibrahim Koroma are unhappy despite being cleared of match-fixing.
The Sweden-based duo are among those cleared by the Sierra Leone Football Association's (SLFA) Ethics Committee on Tuesday due to a "lack of enough evidence".
The pair were among a total of 15 people suspended in July 2014 for alleged match-fixing by the SLFA and the country's sports ministry, who lifted its ban a year later.
It was claimed they influenced a 2010 joint Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifier against hosts South Africa in 2008 which ended in a goalless draw.
"I shed tears when I received the news because I have always known that I'm innocent," the 34-year-old Barlay told BBC Sport Africa.
"I welcome the news but I'm not happy because the SLFA has dented my image and as a result, my career has been damaged. My good image can't be restored.
"I'll never fix a match, I'll never do such a bad thing to the country I love and I have sacrificed for. "It's sad because the decision of the SLFA ethics committee came at the time I have already retired."
"I took the decision to hang my boot at the end of 2018 because of the damage the match-fixing allegation has done to my career.
"My Azerbaijani club Ravan terminated my contract and teams were no longer interested in signing me due to the false allegations.
"Sadly, this is how my country chose to pay me back for all my sacrifice on the pitch for Sierra Leone from under-17 to senior national team level."
The former midfielder who played in Sweden, Finland and Azerbaijan for several clubs added that he would seek advice on what to do next with the matter.
Source: 11 December 2020, Modern Ghana Football
Slovakian tennis player banned for match fixing
Slovakian tennis player Dagmara Baskova has been banned for a period of 12 years and fined $40,000 after an investigation by the Tennis Integrity Unit uncovered five incidents of match fixing by the player in 2017.
Ms Baskova admitted the charges and Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer Ian Mill QC ruled that she should be prohibited from playing in or attending any tennis event authorised or sanctioned by the governing bodies of tennis for a period of 12 years. The majority of the fine is suspended, with $1,000 payable within 90 days.
Ms Baskova had a highest WTA ranking of 1117 in singles and 777 in doubles.
The breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP) that Ms Baskova has been found guilty of are:
D.1.d of the 2017 TACP – “No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome or any other aspect of any Event.”
D.2.a.ii of the 2017 TACP – “In the event any Player knows or suspects that any other Covered Person or individual has committed a corruption Offense, it shall be the Players’ obligation to report such knowledge or suspicion to the TIU as soon as possible.”
Ms Baskova has since retired from the sport.
The Tennis Integrity Unit is an initiative of the Grand Slam Board, the International Tennis Federation, the ATP and the WTA and established to promote, encourage, enhance and safeguard the integrity of professional tennis worldwide. From 1 January 2021, the TIU will become part of a new, independent body – the International Tennis Integrity Agency.
Source: 31 December 2020, Tennis Integrity Unit Tennis
FA fines West Brom’s Paul Terry for betting breaches
Paul Terry, the brother of former Chelsea star John Terry, has been dealt a £1000 fine by the FA after confessing to 209 breaches of betting regulations.
The former professional footballer lost a total sum of £46,916.73 from betting on sport, including 35 wagers placed on competitions his own clubs were involved in.
Employees of football clubs are prohibited from placing wagers on matches and Terry, who currently holds the title of ‘Loan Manager’ at West Bromwich Albion, after joining the club in July 2019 to monitor the progress of players loaned out to other clubs, placed ‘disturbingly high-stake bets’ amounting to £63,800.40.
The FA’s regulatory commission’s report stated: “Whereas Paul Terry’s usual stakes were relatively low, ranging from £2 to £200, a number of bets placed, particularly in November 2017, stood out as being extremely high.
“By way of example, over an 18-day period in November 2017, Paul Terry staked £45,600 across 12 bets.”
In August this year, one of the operators that the 41-year-old had registered an account with raised the alarm to the FA, expressing concerns about his gambling activity. However, Terry insisted he placed bets due to ‘boredom’ and never spent ‘beyond his means’.
He placed five-figure bets on football fixtures, including a £10,000 stake on Manchester United to see off Basel in the Champions League, which ended in defeat for the Premier League team. He also placed a further £10,000 on a friendly between Germany and England, which finished in a goalless draw.
“Paul Terry stated in interview that he had received education on betting and had been aware of the rules against betting on football albeit he was unsure that it applied to coaching staff,” the report continued.
“Paul Terry said that he has gambled all his adult life and that he was betting through boredom when he placed the bets on football. He said that he never bets beyond his means.”
Source: 8 December 2020, Insider sport Football
UZBEKISTAN TENNIS PLAYER BANNED FOR SEVEN YEARS
Temur Ismailov a 25-year-old tennis player from Uzbekistan, has been banned for seven years (with two suspended) and fined
$12,000 after a Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) investigation found he had breached the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP) rules on several occasions relating to match fixing.
The disciplinary case was heard by Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer Janie Soublière and Mr Ismailov, who had a highest ATP singles ranking of 397, admitted being involved in match fixing on three occasions in 2014 ,2015 and 2019. The subsequent sanction means that from 18 December 2020, the player is prohibited from playing in or attending any tennis event authorised or sanctioned by the governing bodies of tennis for seven years (with two years suspended).
The period of Ineligibility will continue until such time as the fine is paid in full.
The breach of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme that Mr Ismailov has been found guilty of is:
D.1.d of the 2014 TACP: “No Covered Person shall, directly or indirectly, contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome or any other aspect of any event”
The Tennis Integrity Unit is an initiative of the Grand Slam Board, the International Tennis Federation, the ATP and the WTA. It was established to promote, encourage and safeguard the integrity of tennis worldwide. From 1 January 2021, the TIU will become part of a new, independent body - the International Tennis Integrity Agency.
Source: 22 December 2020, Tennis Integrity Unit Tennis
ONDCP Statement on President Trump Signing of Rodchenkov Act
On Friday, December 4, President Trump signed into law the Rodchenkov Act, anti-doping legislation that would add robust penalties for individuals and entities that facilitate unfair competition in international sporting events.
“The United States is committed to strengthening fair sport globally, so it should come as no surprise that the Rodchenkov Act was signed into law by President Trump following unanimous bipartisan passage in the House and Senate,” ONDCP Director Jim Carroll stated. “The Rodchenkov Act puts those who would participate in international doping fraud conspiracies on notice: there are severe consequences to flouting anti-doping rules. ONDCP thanks the many domestic and international partners who supported us in reaching this moment, including the U.S. Helsinki Commission, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency here at home, and independent organizations like Global Athlete and FairSport abroad. Bad actors who enable unfair competition should face legal consequences — a position shared by President Trump, legislators on both sides of the aisle in the United States, and athletes around the world.”
Source: 8 December 2020, White House All Sports
US finally moves to tackle racing’s persistent drug culture
No one much liked horse breeder and owner Arthur Hancock III in the spring of 1991 after he delivered what he now calls his “drugs-and-thugs speech” to the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing.
He had spoken openly about thoroughbred racing’s dirty little secret: that too many of its horses were running on performance- enhancing drugs or were so doped up on anti-inflammatories and painkillers that they were running unnaturally fast and hurting themselves, often fatally.
It was not only the horses that were suffering but also people like Hancock, who had made a living breeding fast horses for generations, and others who harboured a passion for thoroughbreds.
Horse racing, Hancock said then, was losing market share to other sports, and even casinos had a better reputation than one of America’s oldest pastimes. Horse racing needed some law and order. Hancock offered up what he called the Horse Racing Act of 1992, which called for drug-free racing, uniform rules backed by stiff penalties and a central office to enforce them.
“How are we going to compete with these if we are not in control of our own destiny and if we are perceived by the masses of fans and potential fans as being dishonest and riddled by drugs and thugs,” Hancock, now 77, asked those in attendance.
Nearly 30 years later, Hancock and others are finally getting help cleaning up the sport in the form of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, a provision included deep in the measure signed last Sunday by president Donald Trump to provide $900 billion in pandemic aid and to fund the government through September.
The horse racing measure, which takes effect on July 1st, 2022, calls for a board overseen by the Federal Trade Commission to write rules and penalties to be enforced by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which regulates Olympic athletes in the United States and which revealed Lance Armstrong’s cheating and issued him a lifetime suspension in 2012.
Source: 30 December 2020, The Irish Times Racing
Russia banned from Tokyo Olympics and 2022 World Cup after Cas ruling
Russia's ban from all major sporting events after a doping scandal has been cut to two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The ban still prevents Russia from competing in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, set to be held next year, and football's 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Russia was initially given a four-year ban by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Cas said the reduction of the ban should not be seen "as any validation" of Russia's conduct.
The ban will now run until 16 December 2022, meaning Russia is also banned from competing at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.
World Athletics said it will decide in March 2021 whether to allow Russian athletes who can prove they are clean to compete as neutral athletes in international athletics competitions.
The governing body has previously said a maximum of 10 Russian track and field athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag at the Tokyo Games, which were postponed to July 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Russia will be allowed to play at next year's delayed Euro 2020 tournament because European football's governing body Uefa is not defined as a "major event organisation" with regards to rulings on anti-doping breaches.
Wada declared Russia's Anti Doping Agency (Rusada) non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.
Russia had been told to hand over data to Wada as a condition of its controversial reinstatement in 2018 after a three-year suspension for its vast state-sponsored doping scandal.
"The panel has imposed consequences to reflect the nature and seriousness of the non-compliance and to ensure that the integrity of sport against the scourge of doping is maintained," said Cas, which announced the ruling on Thursday.
"It has considered matters of proportionality and, in particular, the need to effect cultural change and encourage the next generation of Russian athletes to participate in clean international sport."
Russia has also been prevented from hosting international events during the same period.
When Wada announced its sanction last December, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said the ban was part of "chronic anti-Russian hysteria".
Will there be no sign of Russia at these events?
Russian athletes who can prove they are untainted by the doping scandal will be able to compete under a neutral flag. They can wear a kit which contains Russian colours, but it cannot bear the Russian flag or any national symbol.
If their kit displays the name 'Russia' - written in any language - it cannot be more prominent than the words 'neutral athlete' which must be in English.
The Russian national anthem cannot be played or sung at any official venue, while flags cannot be displayed either. A total of 168 Russian athletes competed under a neutral flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Russia has been banned from competing as a nation in athletics since 2015.
An important decision for clean sport - Wada
After the ruling was announced, Wada said it was pleased to have "won this landmark case", adding it was important for "clean sport across the world".
"We left no stone unturned in investigating this very complex matter and in presenting our case before Cas," said Wada president Witold Banka.
"The panel has clearly upheld our findings that the Russian authorities brazenly and illegally manipulated the Moscow laboratory data in an effort to cover up an institutionalised doping scheme.
"In the face of continual resistance and denial from Russia, we clearly proved our case, in accordance with due process. In that regard, this ruling is an important moment for clean sport and athletes all over the world."
Banka added his agency was "disappointed" the panel did not completely endorse Wada's initial sanctions, saying he believed a four-year ban was "proportionate and reasonable".
"Ultimately Wada is not the judge but the prosecutor and we must respect the decision of the panel," he said.
UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) chief executive Nicole Sapstead said she "welcome" the decision to uphold the ban but was "frustrated" by the reduction to two years.
"This decision demonstrates Wada's ability to implement a global set of anti-doping rules to which everyone in sport is held," she added. "The Russia ban is the most severe sanction in sport ever imposed on a nation.
"Wada quite rightly sought to impose the maximum four-year ban. It is hard to imagine a more serious breaking of the rules in sport, so I don't understand the justification for this reduction."
A devastating decision - Usada
The US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) called Cas' ruling a "weak, watered-down outcome" and a "devastating decision" that represented a "significant loss" to clean athletes.
"To once again escape a meaningful consequence proportional to the crimes, much less a real ban, is a catastrophic blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport, and the rule of law," said Usada head Travis Tygart.
He accused Wada and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of having "manipulated and mishandled this sordid Russian state-doping affair" and having put "politics over principle".
The IOC said it will "carefully evaluate" the decision and its "consequences" for the Tokyo Games and Beijing Winter Games and it will work with international federations and the International Paralympic Committee to have a "consistent approach".
Rusada said it was not fully satisfied with the decision, claiming that "not all arguments presented by our lawyers were heard".
The lawyer for Russian whistleblower and former Moscow laboratory head Grigory Rodchenkov - whose evidence was key to Russia's suspension - said Cas's decision was "nonsensical and undeserved".
"Cas reduced the ban by half, allowing Russian athletes to participate in international sporting events anyway, and in effect upheld an already-limited ban in name only," said Rodchenkov's lawyer Jim Walden.
He added that "stronger angels have emerged" to protect clean athletes after the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act - a bill allowing the US to prosecute anyone involved in doping at international events was signed into law earlier this month.
BBC sports editor Dan Roan
No wonder many in Russia will hail this as a major victory for their country, given the scale of its cheating scandal, widely regarded as the greatest in the history of sport.
Even before this decision, many critics had argued that Wada's punishment was too lenient, and that there should have been an absolute ban of Russian athletes, rather than a qualified one that already ensured hundreds of competitors from the country would be in Tokyo and Beijing, albeit as neutrals.
Now, not only the ban been halved in length, but Cas have insisted on a number of allowances and caveats that critics believe make a mockery of the punishment.
The qualifying criteria for Russian competitors has been watered down. When its athletes win medals at the Olympics, there may not be an anthem or flag, but everyone will know where they are from; 'Russia' will be on their uniforms, and they will be allowed to wear the colours of the Russian flag. Even the ban on government officials has been diluted, with exceptions being made for those invited by the leader of a host country.
This staggerIiNnTgERsaPOgaL ihs naostprersopvoendsibcleonfotrrtohveecrosnitaelnttooftthheesveearryticelensd. T.he opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do
Source: 17 December 2020, BBC Sport
FIFA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
FIFA and UNODC join forces to encourage football to speak out against match-fixing
FIFA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have joined forces today, International Anti-Corruption Day, for a new campaign encouraging football to speak out against match-fixing and to raise awareness about FIFA’s confidential reporting platforms.
Against the backdrop of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on football, and the subsequent economic uncertainty and the higher integrity risk faced by many players and clubs around the world, the new joint campaign by FIFA and the UNODC aims to raise awareness amongst players, coaches and officials about the confidential platforms available to report approaches by suspected match-fixers and to encourage anyone in football who may have been approached to come forward.
Coinciding with International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December, which this year aims to highlight the need to “Recover with Integrity”, the joint campaign features messages from a range of FIFA Legends, including Sun Wen, Iván Córdoba, Luke Wilkshire, Wael Gomaa, Stipe Pletikosa, Clémentine Touré and Bibiana Steinhaus, who encourage everyone in football to recognise, resist and report any approach to fix a match via FIFA’s confidential reporting platforms.
Speaking of the new campaign, Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, said:
“This new joint campaign between FIFA and UNODC, just a few weeks after the signing of our Memorandum of Understanding, is a strong message about our absolute commitment and determination to eliminating match-fixing and corruption in football.”
“In these unprecedented times marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that we work together with partners such as the UNODC to ensure that players, coaches and officials have the confidence to speak out against match-fixing, as well as any other integrity issues.“
UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly said:
“Sports and sporting events are vital to our well-being, and they have a crucial role to play in helping our societies and economies recover from the pandemic. That is why we must work together to ensure that sport recovers with integrity.
“The UNODC has joined forces with FIFA to support efforts aimed at preventing, detecting, reporting and sanctioning match- fixing and other forms of corruption in sport. Working with governments, sports organisations and all stakeholders, we can build on the UN Convention against Corruption to tackle match-fixing and keep sport fair for all.”
Please note that video assets featuring FIFA Legends are now available for media representatives to download and use for editorial purposes only. Please click HERE to download.
In line with its overall vision and one of its key objectives to impact society through the power of football, FIFA has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UNODC to work together in the fight against match-fixing and corruption in sport.
Source: 9 December 2020, FIFA Football
ODDS AND ENDS
The ARF Launches a Major Report Demonstrating the Economic and Social Impacts of Thoroughbred Racing
On behalf of the Asian Racing Federation (ARF), the Chairman, Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, is delighted to share with you an ARF report, Thoroughbred Racing in Asian Racing Federation Jurisdictions: An Economic and Social Impact Assessment.
The report quantifies the economic and social impact that the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries had on ARF member jurisdictions across the 2018/19 racing season.
Incorporating data from ARF members, the report highlights the industry’s impact on member economies, from direct spending to the jobs it supports to the substantial tax revenue it provides.
"In 2018/19, the Thoroughbred Racing Industry in the Asian Racing Federation Jurisdictions generated US$26.9 billion in GDP. This activity sustained more than 570,000 jobs in the region."
Moreover, the report quantifies the substantial social impact of the
industry through the voluntary contributions it makes to the community in excess of its tax contributions.
Combining case studies from member jurisdictions with macroeconomic data, the report paints a compelling picture of an industry that contributes positively to society.
"ARF Members hosted approximately 50% of the IFHA's Top 100 Group/Grade One Races Globally"
The ARF hopes that this report will serve as a useful tool in advocating to external stakeholders the positive impact that the thoroughbred racing and breeding industries have on society.
Source: 24 December 2020, ARF Racing
L'autorité intercantonale de surveillance des jeux d'argent s'appelle désormais Gespa
Le Concordat sur les jeux d'argent au niveau suisse (CJA) est entré en vigueur le 1er janvier 2021. A cette date, il a remplacé la Convention intercantonale sur la surveillance, l'autorisation et la répartition du bénéfice de loteries et paris exploités sur le plan intercantonal ou sur l'ensemble de la Suisse. De même, toutes les procédures en cours devant la Commission des loteries et paris (Comlot) ainsi que tous les droits et obligations de cette dernière sont passés à la Gespa.
Dès à présent, l'autorité intercantonale de surveillance des jeux d'argent Gespa (abréviation tirée de la dénomination en allemand " Geldspielaufsicht ") a pour mission de veiller à ce que la population suisse puisse jouer à des jeux de loterie, des paris sportifs et des jeux d'adresse sûrs et socialement responsables. Au 1er janvier 2021, elle a repris toutes les tâches et compétences de l'ancienne Comlot.
La Gespa est un établissement de droit public indépendant. Son organe suprême est le conseil de surveillance. Celui-ci se compose - avec le président - de cinq membres, dont deux sont issus de Suisse romande, deux de Suisse alémanique et un membre de Suisse italienne. Les membres de la commission de l'ancienne Comlot sont devenus membres du conseil de surveillance de la Gespa au début de l'année. Le secrétariat de la Comlot est devenu le secrétariat de la Gespa. Ce dernier est en outre dirigé par le directeur et chargé des activités opérationnelles.
La transformation de la Comlot en Gespa a été l'occasion d'une refonte de la marque verbale et figurative, ainsi que du site Internet. La nouvelle version de celui-ci est disponible à l'adresse www.gespa.ch.
Pour tout renseignement téléphonique : 031 313 13 03 Manuel Richard (all), Directeur
Pascal Philipona (fr), membre de la direction
Source: 4 January 2021, Presse Portal All Sports
Swedish team responds to match-fixing claims after weird loss
We have officially hit the “potential second-division European hockey league gambling scandal” point of the pandemic.
The CEO of a team playing in the second-tier Swedish Allsvenskan said he welcomes an investigation while addressing allegations of “match-fixing” after his powerhouse squad gave up a 3-0 lead and lost 8-4 on Monday.
“I hope that this is sorted out properly and that we turn over all the stones that can be turned over,” Björklöven boss Anders Blomberg said in Swedish, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
“Just the suspicion is serious enough, but if it turns out to be true, it is of course completely unacceptable and something that must never occur in our association. These players are trained in what applies in Björklöven and this is so far from the culture we stand for.
“I have an incredibly hard time believing that someone in Björklöven has been involved in such a type of activity. Of course, we welcome the fact that the question is being investigated when there are now suspicions and speculations.”
Despite Björklöven giving up eight straight goals to an inferior opponent after building a hefty lead — while making some unusual in-game decisions in the process — it wasn’t really anything game-play related that raised the red flags, but rather the gambling trends surrounding the contest.
Björklöven went into the evening as -130 favourites, but those odds of winning only increased minimally (to -150) even though they took a 3-1 lead into the second period. Johnston notes that those odds likely held steady because money was pouring in on Björklöven’s opponent, Mora, but that the betting companies and sportsbooks will face scrutiny as the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation’s security department — and the police — investigates.
There’s also a bit of an NHL connection to this story, as Nashville goaltending prospect and former Canadian world junior netminder Connor Ingram was lit up for five goals on 14 shots before being pulled.
Source: 16 December 2020, Yahoo sports Hockey
Tournament Betting Sponsors Authorized Again by the ATP
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has decided to once again allow sports betting and daily fantasy sponsorships due to the Covid-19 situation, after a two-year ban.
Moratorium on Tournament Betting Sponsors Lifted
For the first time since 2018, the ATP has decided to authorize bets and daily fantasy sponsorships for ATP hosted events. The organization decided this Thursday that enough progress had been accomplished to lift the prohibition and for tournament sponsorships to be allowed.
According to The Sports Business Journal, this authorization includes betting and daily fantasy sponsorship, which will be available at the 250 and 500 levels. Masters 1000 events such as the BNP Paribas Open will only be able to go after daily fantasy partnerships, for example with operators such as DraftKings or FanDuel.
Tournament director of the Atlanta Open Eddie Gonzalez confirmed the revised policy. However, there will be some exceptions as tournaments are not yet permitted to form title or have sponsorships.
Gonzalez said the support provided by the board was appreciated, as Andrea Gaudenzi stepped in as the new chairman during the pandemic and facilitated much of the negotiation. He confirmed already being in dialogue with different partners to reach a new agreement regarding the Atlanta Open after the ban is revoked.
“This is a great move for ATP Tour events to be able to secure revenue in a new category,” he said.
While the tedious pandemic situation continues, this change of policy is necessary as events all around the world look for a solution to boost cash flow. Gonzalez welcomed this additional source of revenue the ATP Tour is now looking to tap into.
While Indian Wells is still debating whether to host events or not, Auckland, New York, and Pune have already they would refrain from hosting their respective events given the circumstances.
Tennis Ethical Values at Stake
This sponsorship ban was originally introduced because of rampant corruption in the sports sector, particularly at minor tournaments, revealed by an independent investigation, at the recommendation of the International Review Panel.
The BBC and BuzzFeed News reported back in 2016 that at least 16 of the top 50 players were identified by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) in the last 10 years as suspected of fixing games: the inquiry was initiated following the publication.
Yet, the governing bodies were exonerated of any crime and none of the perpetrators was named.
The ATP is committed to maintaining ethical standards and integrity in professional tennis. The anti-corruption body, TIU, has been established with the help of the Grand Slam Board, the International Tennis Federation, the WTA, and the ATP.
Recently, the TIU banned pro-tennis player Aleksandrina Naydenova for 12 violations related to match-fixing and the organization wants to ensure that these types of breaches do not reoccur.
Source: 19 December 2020, Gambling News Tennis
International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA)
New anti-corruption body for tennis confirmed for 2021
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) replaces the current Tennis Integrity Unit from 1 January 2021
Tennis will have a new, independent body responsible for safeguarding the integrity of professional tennis from 1 January 2021
– the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA). The Tennis Integrity Supervisory Board, comprised of independent directors together with the sport’s international tennis organisations, confirmed the new organisation’s foundation, articles and budget at its meeting on 24 November. The ITIA was incorporated in the UK on 2 December.
The ITIA will replace the current Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) which is currently an operationally independent arm of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Its establishment was a key recommendation made by the 2018 Independent Review Panel which was set up by the governing bodies of tennis to review all aspects of the sport’s anti-corruption protocols, structures and resources.
A new identity has been created for the organisation, with the strapline, “Tennis You Can Trust” and its new logo will be used across all the organisation’s publications and assets from next month. A new website at www.itia.tennis will go live in January 2021
Jennie Price, Chair of the Tennis Integrity Supervisory Board, welcomed the ITIA to the world, “The creation of the ITIA as an independent entity has been a major part of the Board’s focus for the last year or so and it has been a real privilege to lead that process. It has been a challenging period for the whole sporting landscape, and I am grateful to the tennis organisations in particular, for the time and attention they have devoted to it. The TIU has served tennis incredibly well for the last decade and the ITIA will build on its achievements to ensure that tennis is even better equipped to tackle corruption within the sport.”
Jonny Gray, CEO of the ITIA said, “Establishment of the ITIA is a major milestone of the IRP recommendations. But more than that, it is a very clear signal to those within the sport that we are taking integrity extremely seriously. At a time of real financial hardship, when tennis organisations have missed out on significant income due to Covid-19, they have increased the budget for the work we do. There can be no doubt that the sport is united in its determination to root out those who would seek to corrupt the sport.”
Between now and the end of 2020, the Tennis Integrity Unit continues to administer the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP) for the sport before its staff and legal identity transfer into the ITIA.
Source: 16 December 2020, International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA)