Illegal betting could hit Olympics, says Rogge

By Paul Radford

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - Illegal betting is as big a threat to the integrity of sports as doping and could one day hit the Olympics, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said on Thursday.

Rogge, opening a symposium to discuss illegal betting in sport, announced that the IOC was calling a summit on March 1 with governments and sporting bodies to hammer out a joint approach to the problem.

"Illegal and irregular betting is a major threat for sport, probably at the same level as doping," he said.

"We will call upon the support of governments the same way we did in 1998 to create the World Anti Doping Agency."

"The sports world cannot solve the problem alone. We have to work with governments, with the lotteries, with bona fide betting companies and everyone concerned about having clean sport."

At the symposium, organized by the International Sports Journalists' Association (AIPS), Rogge said the IOC had been monitoring the problem for some time and had noted nothing to suggest it had affected the Olympics so far.

"But we should not be so naive to think it will not happen to the Olympics sometime in the future, possible even in London (next year)."

Rogge said individual sports needed to put firm sanctions in place against offenders and praised soccer, cricket and tennis for taking early action but said some other sports were lagging behind.

He said 100 million bets were being analyzed on a daily basis.

But he said strange betting patterns did not prove match-fixing or corruption and it was still hard to get proof and sanction offenders.

(Editing by Alan Baldwin)