Wednesday, December 12, 2007

IOC moves to keep match-fixing, illegal betting out of Olympics - Wednesday December 12, 2007 12:24PM - More Sports - IOC moves to keep match-fixing, illegal betting out of Olympics - Wednesday December 12, 2007 12:24PM The IOC is taking steps to ensure that illegal betting and match-fixing are kept out of next year's Olympic Games.

President Jacques Rogge said Wednesday the International Olympic Committee might bring in a company that monitors gambling before the 2008 Beijing Games.
This is something to note. The IOC has already entered, headlong, into the "WAR ON DRUGS" with its fight against legal and illegal doping.

Now comes the battle against gambling and the ill effects of gambling's spill over onto the playing fields and medal stands.

People gamble everywhere. Mainland China has Playboy Casinos -- and I don't mean 'slots parlors' either.

The national sport in Thailand is boxing. Run by the military / police. These Thai Boxing venues are interesting places for betting. Nobody goes to a window like at a horse race track. Tons of transactions occur on the fly, right in the seats.

Some cultures bet on 'fighting fish' for pete's sake.

Now that the Olympics head to China, a host of new headaches, billions of them, concerning betting are sure to unfold. That's one battle I'm glad I don't have to get a grip upon.

"Bona fide betting companies can give us information and early warnings on abnormal betting partners," Rogge said. "They have their statistics, they have their computers and they can immediately say, 'This is not normal. Why is there so much betting?' Then they can inform us. And then we can act."

Rogge said the IOC would also try to bring together world sport's biggest federations for a betting seminar next year.

The meeting would be similar to the 1999 conference on performance-enhancing drugs that led to the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Gambling "is something that, like doping, has to be attacked and has to be addressed in a concerted manner within the Olympic movement," Rogge said.

He said the goal of the seminar would be to come up with a common approach to fighting the threat of gambling and cheating, which has recently plagued sports such as soccer, tennis, cricket and horse racing.

The international governing bodies for cricket, soccer and tennis have signed an agreement with online betting operator Betfair to share information on suspicious matches.

Tennis authorities are investigating fourth-ranked men's player Nikolay Davydenko of Russia for a match that had irregular betting patterns.

UEFA said earlier this month that it had called in police to investigate match-fixing allegations involving 15 matches played in eastern Europe. UEFA officials now believe the number of affected matches may be greater.

Rogge spoke after the IOC executive board was briefed by former London police chief Paul Condon, who has been conducting investigations into gambling and corruption in cricket.

Condon said he did not believe the Olympics was particularly at risk.

"The bad guys can go to other events during the year when it's easier to get cheating carried out by sportsmen," he told reporters. "Elite sports men and women at the pinnacle of their careers, at the Olympics, are probably less likely to cheat for betting purposes than they would ... through drugs. But certainly on cheating for betting purposes, the Olympics is not a high-risk area."

Condon said the IOC has taken "robust steps" to head off the threat of gambling tarnishing the games.
Let's get Pittsburgh to put in a bid to host the global betting seminar for the I.O.C. We could hold it at the Convention Center -- and it would be a lot like the All-Star Game's fan fest.

A Smokey Robinson concert could be for the kick-off -- err, opening ceremony and parade of nations.

The brothers DeFazio could be the ones pegged to light the torch. The wrestler / politician and ex-chief of police (sheriff) -- they would be a certain hit with that audience. We don't even need Ali nor a West Virginia gymnast (Mary Lou Renton).

Hosting such an event could help to re-establish international flights to the Pittsburgh International Airport.

During the event, the participants could go to a mixer hosted by Westinghouse so that they can go home with plenty of new sales literature so they can build nuclear reactors in third world countries, with the proceeds from gambling, of course.

The closing ceremonies could be held at either Kennywood or Sandcastle -- given the new ownership is based in Spain!

How can gambling plague a sport like horse racing? Is that insane? The authorities in China are sure to worry about "the plague" in China coming from horses, not the plague of gambling on them. The feed, the bird flu, the disease opportunities, the mixing with farm animals, etc., etc., etc.

This is why Beijing, with its mega worries about feeding their millions of people, is not going to have any of the horse-specific events of the Olympic Games there. Those events are going to be held in Hong Kong.

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