Sports: Rogge urges clampdown on illegal bets 'cancer'

GENEVA, Jan 27, 2011 (AFP) - Olympic chief Jacques Rogge warned on Thursday that the threat of corruption in sport due to illegal betting was at "an all time high" and needed to be tackled as a scourge similar to doping.

The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) signalled that all sports would eventually be obliged to have rules to deal with the "cancer" if they wanted to remain withing the Olympic Games.

Rogge acknowledged that illegal bets and even cases of match fixing were "as old as organised sport itself".

"But with the advent of betting on the Internet and the anonymity, liquidity and sheer volume it encompasses, the potential for corruption is at an all-time high," he said at a conference in Lausanne

"It can be argued that there are temptations and more pressure on athletes, coaches, officials and others to cheat for betting gains than at any other time in the past.

"What’s worse, this cancer continues to go largely unregulated in many parts of the world," Rogge told the meeting on 'integrity in sport' organised by the International Sports Press Association, and the transcript of whose speech appears on the AIPS website.

The IOC started to look at the issue in depth in 2007 and was now coaxing all sports and governments to adopt and enforce rules against irregular betting.

While he singled out cricket, tennis and football for doing "an admirable job," the IOC chief warned that many international sports federations and National Olympic Committees (NOC) had no rules, allowing cheats to escape punishment.

"I envision that in the next few years we may even have a global watchdog in place similar in structure to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and that fighting illegal betting and match fixing will be required by the international federations to remain part of the Olympic Movement," he added.

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