Kirill Starkov was enjoying a hugely successful career in the Danish ice hockey league when he placed a bet on one of his team’s games.
Despite never intending to manipulate the outcome of the game, he was handed a fine, fired from his club and suspended from the Danish national team.
Our prevention of competition manipulation resources can help you understand your responsibilities and avoid making the same mistakes.
It didn’t matter that I was trying my absolute best or that I was doing everything I could to help my team win.
In 2014, I was at the peak of my career, and I had realised my childhood dream. I was a member of my national team, having already played in four world championships, and I was one of the best players in the Danish league, with an excellent scoring record.
But everything changed after one bet, and I made a mistake that affected my career and everything I had worked for over the previous 12 years.
Risking it all
Like many people, I found betting entertaining. A team-mate told me about some excellent odds on one of the games in which I was due to play, and I placed a small bet on the opposing team scoring a goal in the first two periods of the match.
It didn’t cross my mind that I was doing anything wrong, but I understand now that betting on games you are involved in is strictly forbidden. It didn’t matter that I was trying my absolute best or that I was doing everything I could to help my team win. I was unaware of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) integrity rules, and how much trouble I was getting into by placing this bet.
My team-mate was caught, and I felt very guilty about my involvement and worried about the consequences. After coming forward to the authorities, I was fined, fired from my league team and suspended from the national team. I couldn’t participate in the upcoming national championships.
My poor judgement put my team-mates and friends in a very bad position. Worst of all, it put my career and everything I had worked for in jeopardy.
Having lost my well-paid job of three years, I suffered financially. My poor judgement put my team-mates and friends in a very bad position. Worst of all, it put my career and everything I had worked for in jeopardy – all over a small bet.
Knowing the stakes
There are three main situations regarding integrity violation, and it’s important to understand the sanctions that you could face and what you should do in each situation.
The first is match fixing: the act of influencing the result or progress of a game contrary to sporting ethics. This could be anything from accepting money in return for being less committed during a game to deliberately conceding a goal. The second integrity violation, and the one I committed, is betting on your own sport. No matter how you place a bet, be it for or against your team to win, and even if you play with 100 per cent commitment, betting on a sport you are involved in is wrong. The third violation is providing a third party with private information about your team, such as tactics or injury statuses. Third parties can use this information to obtain an unfair betting advantage.
As a final thought, remember that your international and national federations are there to protect you and help you make your career a success. You should feel comfortable reporting any concerns you may have.