Competition manipulation happens when athletes intentionally underperform or lose on purpose. It’s also when officials intentionally make bad decisions affecting the competition. Whether it’s money or any other kind of benefit, there is always an advantage in exchange. What’s the point if the game is fixed in advance?
See below answers to common questions around competition manipulation and further information to help you understand the topic.
Competition manipulation is the act of intentionally altering the course of a match or competition to ensure that a specific event occurs. It can take many different forms, such as an athlete intentionally losing in order to face an easier opponent in the next round of the tournament, or performing a certain action during a match to make a bet successful, for example.
Not only the athletes but anyone on the field of play, like a referee or a technical official, can potentially manipulate an event.
“Match fixing”, “spot fixing” and “tanking” are related terms which fall under the wider description of competition manipulation.
It can happen in any sport at any time. If you are persuaded, forced or bribed to underperform or to perform a specific action during a match, that is competition manipulation.
As an athlete, you must make yourself aware of what it is, and how to react to suspicions of competition manipulation.
Your primary responsibility as an athlete is to understand what competition manipulation is, respect the related rules and report suspicious behaviour.
Rules for all athletes and accredited persons at the Olympic Games:
- Don’t fix the competition and always do your best.
- Don’t bet on your own sport or any event at the Olympic Games.
- Don’t share information about health issues or sports tactics.
- Speak up! If you witness or suspect competition manipulation, you must report it to the IOC Integrity Hotline.
Breaching these rules makes you subject to sanctions, even if no manipulation of the competition occurred.
Competition manipulation happens for a number of reasons.
For a sport-related advantage: Some athletes might want to underperform in one match so that they can face what they think is an easier opponent in the next round of the competition, or to affect their upcoming sporting schedule.
For money or another benefit: This can happen when bets are placed on the competition, and an athlete or official has the opportunity to manipulate the match to win that bet, which may have been placed by themselves or by someone else. It does not always have a financial benefit, and could be a benefit of a different kind: material, keeping a secret, sexual favours, etc.
Given that online betting will be available for each event of the Olympic Games, it is strictly forbidden for any athlete, coach or official to bet during the Games.
Find out more about who loses on purpose and why it happens with our interactive flyer.
Competition manipulation can happen directly or indirectly. Athletes or officials may act independently to manipulate competition directly on the field of play. Alternatively, they can also reveal inside information (such as health issues or sports tactics) to someone for a benefit, be it financial or non-financial.
You should be alerted if someone:
- Asks about inside information (like which members of your team are injured or unavailable for selection, details about your injury, your team’s tactics, etc.)
- Offers you money or any other kind of benefit (sometimes corruptors don’t ask for anything in return during the first approach). Ask yourself: What does this person want from me?
- Asks you not to give your best (even if that does not impact the outcome of the game).
Sometimes, manipulators may try to identify athletes dependent on their age, income or personal motivations, and try to befriend them in order to gain their confidence.
Whatever it is, you must report any suspicious activity that you see or that affects you directly. Don’t forget – it is not just athletes, but entourage members, officials, or even less visible people like medical staff or agents who could be at risk.
Breaching the rules on competition manipulation is subject to heavy sanctions, even if no manipulation actually takes place. For example, an athlete participating in the Olympic Games betting on their own sport can suffer disciplinary sanctions.
To detect competition manipulation, Olympic events and their related betting offers are monitored live by experts in the field.
The range of possible sanctions include a sports ban, a fine, serious damage to your reputation and subsequent loss of sponsors and fans, and criminal proceedings which may result in a prison sentence.
Nowadays, more and more countries globally are recognising competition manipulation as a criminal offence, reflecting how serious a threat it is to the integrity of sport.
As an athlete, you can choose to be a victim or to be part of the solution to competition manipulation.
You have a duty to officially report any suspicious activity as soon as you can. This is the only way to stop the problem from growing.
Reporting competition manipulation is key to preserving the integrity of sport and allows you to compete safe in the knowledge that you are performing at your best, free of outside influence.
As soon as you learn of any suspicious activity, you have to report it. Talking to your coach or sports federation is not enough; you need to do it officially through the IOC Integrity Hotline or any other official reporting mechanism available to you.
All matters are dealt with professionally, with full confidentiality and anonymity, protecting you from any unwanted attention.
From there, investigations are performed by the relevant competent National or International Federation. During the Olympic Games, the IOC works closely with the Organising Committee and other stakeholders to fully investigate suspicions of competition manipulation. The IOC Integrity Hotline is also available for athletes outside the Olympic Games.
Click the link below to understand the 3 step process of what happens when you report. Remember that you have a responsibility to report if you witness competition manipulation or any approaches to manipulate a competition. Refusing alone is not enough – you need to report. Non-reporting can result in bans from your sport and further disciplinary sanctions.
Be part of the solution to competition manipulation