Rogge considers bringing in company to monitor, plus seminar on betting

Updated: December 12, 2007, 11:37 AM ET
Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- 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 take place.

"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.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press