LONDON – Authorities hope to protect the integrity of the London Olympics by holding daily meetings to analyze any suspicious betting patterns and assess if any athletes are deliberately underperforming for personal profit.
The International Olympic Committee has warned that betting and match-fixing could pose a bigger threat to sports than doping.
And with the Olympics four months away, Britain has unveiled plans to prevent sports in the country being further undermined by corruption after four cricketers were jailed in the last four months for fixing parts of matches.
The daily anti-corruption meetings will involve the IOC, Britain's Gambling Commission, police, the Border Agency and games organizers. They will report their findings to Interpol and the IOC.
"What is being put in place is a comprehensive structure of support to assess the extent of any undue movements in the market," British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moyinhan said Monday. "The betting exchanges will also be monitored closely as there is the possibility of betting to lose."
The illegal gambling industry is believed to be worth tens of billions of dollars annually, according to figures presented at an IOC conference earlier this month.
"At the moment it is perfectly legal to spot bet on all sports, for example to make a spot bet on first short corner in (field) hockey," Britain's Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said at a briefing.
"Up until this point illegal betting has not been a huge problem at the Olympics but it was difficult to monitor in Beijing and this is a new threat and an evolving threat."
But even if suspicions are raised about an athlete, authorities won't have the power to intervene to stop them from competing due to the current limitations of the law.
"An athlete won't be pulled prior to that event as nothing will have happened," Robertson said. "An offense has not been committed until it has actually happened."
The IOC monitored betting patterns during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Games, but found nothing irregular or illegal.
British athletes are banned from betting on any Olympic sport under their BOA contract.