Protecting clean athletes and keeping sport fair are top priorities for the IOC. As the manipulation of sports competitions has become an area of great concern in recent years, the IOC remains committed to fighting all forms of cheating that threatens both the integrity and the essence of sport.
Doping is cheating to win a competition and/or have an unfair advantage over other competitors, while competition manipulation is usually committed to deliberately lose a competition or parts of it. Doping and competition manipulation often involve not only the athlete, but also the entourage, for example the coach or medical staff.
Competition manipulation is when an athlete or official cheats to remove the unpredictability of a competition. They may cheat to lose a competition or part of it, which is entirely against the Olympic spirit. Competition manipulation can happen in any sport and in any country. Key issues related to competition manipulation include:
A betting prohibition means that athletes, referees and officials are not allowed to bet on their sport, competitions or other sports in the same multisport event – like the Olympic Games.
Inside information is all exclusive information (tactics, injuries, etc.) to which athletes and officials have access. This information must be kept private, because it can be used for fraudulent betting purposes.
Match-fixing is normally referred to as competition manipulation related to betting. It means any improper alteration of a competition to win money through sports betting or to ensure that a bettor (who may have offered a bribe) wins their bet. Betting-related competition manipulation can affect the result of a competition, but also other minor and marginal occurrences during its course, which is often referred to as spot-fixing.
Tanking is to gain undue sporting advantage in a competition, for instance, when athletes lose an event on purpose to play easier opponents in the next phases of the competition.
THE CONTEXT OF SPORTS BETTING
Betting on sport is not inherently negative. Sports betting is one way the public can demonstrate its attachment to sport and athletes, and the regulated national operators are one of the strongest partners for financing sport in many countries. The problems occur only when athletes, their entourage or officials bet on their own sport or – in the worst case – this betting leads to the manipulation of competitions.
With the rise of the internet, the sports betting market has gone global and has hugely increased in size as well as in complexity – as has betting-related competition manipulation. The amounts of money involved can be enormous, making the temptation to manipulate very attractive and often involving criminal networks.
HOW DOES THE IOC TACKLE COMPETITION MANIPULATION?
When an athlete agrees to cheat once, it becomes increasingly difficult to refuse any subsequent proposition. Therefore, and to protect clean athletes, the IOC has set up robust educational programmes and intelligence systems. It has developed tools, engaged in partnerships with various stakeholders and supported political initiatives in this field. With the approval of Olympic Agenda 2020, efforts in this important area have further increased and are structured according to the following three pillars: Regulations and Legislation, Awareness Raising and Capacity Building, Intelligence and Investigations.
To ensure coherent implementation of this three-pillar approach and smooth coordination among the various Olympic Movement stakeholders, in 2017 the IOC set up the Olympic Movement Unit on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions, which forms an integral part of the IOC Ethics and Compliance Office. This Unit oversees the implementation of the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions, which aims to provide sports organisations with harmonised regulations to protect all competitions from the risk of manipulation.