Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Police move to foil Olympic fixers

Olympics security chiefs are to crack down on betting syndicates who attempt to bribe athletes into influencing the outcome of their event

A dedicated police intelligence unit is to be introduced at the London 2012 Games tasked with identifying illegal betting practices and attempts to fix events, according to reports.

For the first time in Olympics history, security chiefs will deploy a specialist team of officers to crackdown on betting syndicates who attempt to bribe athletes into influencing the outcome of their event, it is said.

Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said games fixing has now overtaken doping as the biggest threat to the reputation of the London games.

He told The Sunday Times: "You cannot underestimate the threat this poses because the moment that spectators start to feel that what they are seeing is not a true contest, that is when spectators stop turning up and the whole thing turns to pieces.

"At some stage over the next two or three years, we will have some other sort of betting scandal in some sport. I just hope it's not at the Olympics."

The unit will be headed up by the Metropolitan Police and work with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and Interpol to track suspicious gambling activity abroad, according to paper.

The International Olympic Committee has also created a unit to monitor the global betting market for unusually large wagers on particular events or competitors.

Mr Robertson said Western betting authorities were "well set up" to spot illegal betting activities, but criticised regulation in the Far East and sub-continent.

"If you look at the most high-profile incident - the Pakistani cricketers (caught spot fixing) at Lord's - the issue is not of betting syndicates in this part of the world. It is illegal betting syndicates in the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere, where huge sums of money change hands."

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