Swiss International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Denis Oswald has questioned the involvement of betting companies in the sponsoring of tournaments following the latest allegations of match-fixing in tennis.
Britain’s world number two Andy Murray claimed yesterday there is a contradiction between players not being allowed to bet while tournament organisers are able to sign partnerships with leading gambling firms.
William Hill is acting as the “official betting partner” of this year’s Australian Open and has advertisements at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
Speaking here as a director of the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) during their symposium on the manipulation of sports competitions today, Oswald admitted he has sympathy with Murray’s position, drawing a comparison with the position of the IOC.
“I think it’s a good point because, obviously, betting companies may have an interest in certain results and this is probably dangerous,” Oswald, a former President of the International Rowing Federation, told insidethegames.
“At the IOC, all Olympic participants are forbidden to bet.
“They may be in a position to influence results, but also, being part of the team, living with all the athletes from other sports in the Olympic Village, they may be privileged to information about an athlete being injured or sick, or whatever.
“This may put them in a certain position where they have an advantage.
“This is why all kind of bets are forbidden and this is correct – you can’t be on both sides.”
William Hill, who are not implicated in the match-fixing allegations, have claimed that having betting companies sponsoring major tournaments is part of the solution rather than the problem.
“We have comprehensive information sharing agreements to inform the sport’s integrity bodies, and for the sport to promote licensed operators is key to ensuring transparency,” claimed the company’s group director of security and community Bill South.
“We are proud of our association with Tennis Australia and will continue to play our part in contributing to the integrity of tennis in conjunction with sports bodies and regulators.”
An investigation carried out by the BBC and Buzzfeed, claimed that a group of 16 players were repeatedly flagged up as suspicious to the sport’s governing bodies but have been allowed to continue playing unchecked.
Corruption has been reported before in the lower levels of tennis but the investigation alleges all of the 16 have ranked in the world’s top 50, including a number currently competing in the Australian Open.
The group also reportedly included winners of Grand Slam titles, while the International Tennis Federation began investigating suspicious betting activity in 2007, related to a game between Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko and Argentina’s Martin Vassallo Arguello in Sopot.
The match fixing claims unsurprisingly featured heavily in today’s symposium, which marked 20 years of CIES activities.
Speakers from a range of academic, legal and sports administration backgrounds participated, including FIFA integrity manager Nicholas Raudenski and Thierry Pujol, sport integrity director at Française des Jeux, the state lottery company of France.
Oswald, an honorary professor at Université de Neuchâtel, warned they “must know more” about the latest tennis allegations before coming to a firm judgement.
“I’m surprised that now something that happened in 2007 comes to the surface,” he told insidethegames.
“Why was this not mentioned before?
“We don’t know enough to have a judgement.
“Possibly the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), when they were informed, they had investigated and had come to the conclusion they have no evidence.”
Oswald’s IOC colleague Shamil Tarpischev, also President of the Russian Tennis Federation, claimed today tennis should ignore the allegations, insisting there is “nothing behind these accusations”.
- By Nick Butler at the Université de Neuchâtel; this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz