High-profile speakers call for international cooperation to battle corruption in sport at Asian Racing Conference
Horseracing is leading the field when it comes to integrity and fighting corruption in almost all sports world-wide, but there is no room for complacency and, in an ever-changing technological landscape, international cooperation must be the way forward. That was the message from the 35th Asian Racing Conference this morning when a panel of experts delivered presentations in a plenary session titled: ‘Sport Integrity: racing as the frontrunner’.
Mark Warby QC, one of the strategists behind the British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’s approach to tackling race fixing and misuse of inside information over the past two decades, gave examples of the cases he has been involved in and shared some key findings based on his experiences, which have included successfully defending the BHA’s stance in judicial reviews and court cases.
Corruption in sport is a growing and increasingly problematic phenomenon and he pinpointed the three main driving forces as: the amount of money there is in sports betting; the increased number of betting operators, particularly betting exchanges; and globalisation.
Mr Warby said: “Of course, Britain is only part of a much bigger picture. There is a fight against integrity threats worldwide. We must look to harmonisation of approach and the rules that apply, collaboration between different regulatory bodies and recognition that worldwide threats need a global response.”
Nick McKenzie, a multi award-winning investigative journalist with Australian newspaper, The Age, echoed Mr Warby’s comments and suggested that an equivalent of the World Anti-Doping Agency, an international anti-corruption taskforce, might be considered to police sports’ betting.
Mr McKenzie said: “The nature of betting is that it is worldwide now. The key challenge for sport is hardening the environment and undertaking much greater scrutiny. It is much smarter for sports to get on the front foot and deal with corruption in a public fashion.
“Police will never win against drug traffickers and sport will never win against the match-fixers because they are wealthier, nimble, more flexible and operate out of jurisdictions where they can act with impunity.”
In his address, Justice Mukul Mudgal of India, shared insights gleaned from his experiences that include last year’s investigation into fraud in Indian cricket.
Justice Mudgal noted: “The incidents across sports have highlighted the disciplinary hearing sanctions that are and should be imposed for sporting fraud need to be harsher in order to deter anyone from indulging in it. The sports and the interest of participants need to be protected since lesser punishments spur participants to risk sporting fraud, in the belief that if they succeed the gains are huge. If they get caught, the punishments are meagre. Greater self-regulation and harsher disciplinary sanctions, along with criminal proceedings in graver circumstances, are required in order to protect the integrity of sports.”
Also speaking at the session were Patrick Jay, Director of Trading at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, who highlighted suspicious betting patterns as being the best way of detecting corruption in soccer.
“I was fortunate enough to inherit a very strict risk-management framework as the Club has been offering football betting for 10 years,” said Mr Jay. “It allows us to offer football betting responsibly, sensibly and intelligently, while making sure our customers are protected.”
Dayle Brown, the Executive General Manager of Integrity at Racing Victoria Limited, argued that speed and flow of information to investigators and stewards is vital. Mr Brown explained: “Racing is now a seven-day a week sport and the demands on integrity have grown exponentially. We have a pilot programme involving a remote control room which assists the stewards on racedays and has been very useful. Collaboration and harmonisation on a national and international level are key.”