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Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 13:45 UK

Britain to take on match-fixers

By James Munro
BBC sports news correspondent


The man who took on the drug cheats says match-fixing is fast emerging as a major threat to the integrity of sport.

Dick Pound, former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, has told BBC Sport that sport must step up its efforts to combat corruption.

"Match-fixing destroys everything that sport is and should be," he said.

"Clearly something is going on but getting at what precisely it is, who is doing it and figuring out what the sanctions are is much more difficult."

Pound's concerns are echoed by British sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe, with both men backing the formation of a body to combat corruption.

"We are trying to attract to this country what we call a 'decade of sport', starting with the Twenty20 World Cup this year, because sport inspires people, it enthuses people," said Sutcliffe.

"But it doesn't do that if they think it's bent, if they think it's fixed. We have to make sure we stop that potential."

We must protect integrity of sport - Sutcliffe

Between September 2007 and March 2009, the Gambling Commission investigated 47 cases of alleged match-fixing and illegal betting on British sporting events.

That number has since increased to more than 50 cases.

Nearly half have been dismissed, but the rest are still being investigated, both by the commission and the relevant sports authorities. In some cases, the police are investigating.

"I don't think match-fixing takes place in any great sense, but I am very concerned about the threat of it," said Sutcliffe.

The sports minister is expected to soon announce the details of an integrity panel, which is made up of experts from the gambling industry, sport and the police.

The viability of an integrity unit to tackle the threat of match-fixing across all sport could be one of the first things they look at.

"I think that would be a possible objective," said Sutcliffe.

"I don't want to pre-empt what the integrity panel come up with but, yes, I can see that happening."

Pound, a former vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, certainly advocates the establishment of an integrity unit to combat the threat of corruption.

"When we looked at doping we discovered that it was an international problem that required an international solution," said the Canadian.

"We also discovered that sport cannot deal with all of the problems on its own, it needs the help of the public authorities.

ATP aware of match fixing problem - Franzese

"So the World Anti-Doping Agency model works and it may also be useful in tackling corruption generally."

The vast majority of cases being investigated by the Gambling Commission in the United Kingdom involve horse racing, football and snooker, but other sports are also aware of the threat.

The ATP, the body that governs world tennis, was so concerned about match-fixing that it brought in a former mafia boss Michael Franzese to talk to the players and advise on how to tackle the problem.

"They realised there was a problem and they became very pro-active," said Franzese, who was part of the Colombo crime family and spent 10 years in prison.

"They brought in an ex-mob guy right away to deal with it and they've done other things in that area, obviously to try to get this under control.

"Do they know there is an issue? Yes. Do they know the players are being approached? Yes."

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see also
Ban on Macedonian club is upheld
15 Apr 10 |  Europe
Match-fixing inquiry closed by FA
05 Dec 08 |  Championship
Snooker faces match-fixing probe
13 Feb 08 |  Snooker
Farewell, Dick, we'll miss you
14 Nov 07 |  Sport Homepage

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