What is competition manipulation?
According to the legal definition, competition manipulation or match-fixing is “an intentional arrangement, act or omission aimed at an improper alteration of the result or the course of a sports competition in order to remove all or part of the unpredictable nature of the sports competition with a view to obtaining an undue benefit for oneself or for others.”(Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, 2014).
Match fixing is when the result of a tournament or competition is partially or completely decided in advance and the match is played to ensure the pre-determined outcome. This is against the rules of the game and often the law. The most common reason for match-fixing is to obtain a payoff from gamblers, but teams may also intentionally perform poorly to gain a future advantage, such as a better draft pick or, on paper, a less eminent opponent in a play-off.
Competition manipulation occurs when a participant in a sports competition (for example an athlete, a coach, a judge or referee, etc.) knowingly underperforms or deliberately makes bad or wrong decisions affecting the result or course of a competition, in order to obtain an undue benefit (usually a sporting or financial benefit).
What is Sports betting?
Sports betting has existed since ancient times. If properly regulated it is not a problem. Indeed, a well-regulated and controlled sports betting market further engages sports fans and channels interest and enthusiasm towards the sport. Several sports betting entities have financially sponsored sport at all levels and provided support to key social causes. However, if not properly regulated, sports betting can pose a risk of competition manipulation. Prevention of such manipulation is therefore critical. This is the core mission of the Olympic Movement Unit on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions.
Why is Sports betting a risk to fair competition?
Sports betting carries several risks. Betting on one’s own sport, or on any sport during a multi-sport event such as the Olympic Games, can lead to a conflict of interest, as athletes, their entourage members or sports officials could take advantage of their inside knowledge of the competition. Similarly, athletes who bet on their sport might be tempted to fully or partly manipulate their competition in order to achieve financial gain. Athletes may also be pressured into not doing their best by entourage members, who might have directly or indirectly bet on the competition and thus be looking for a specific result. Of even more concern is that athletes or their entourage could become targets for criminals looking for a way to launder money.
How does the IOC protect clean athletes and the the sports movement?
In 2017, on the recommendation of the International Forum for Sports Integrity (IFSI), the IOC created the Olympic Movement Unit on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions (OM Unit PMC). The Unit has established model rules, a robust awareness raising campaign, and an intelligence system for the entire Olympic Movement.
The OM Unit PMC supports International Sports Federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees (NOCs), multi-sports event organisers and other sports organisations in their efforts to protect the integrity of sport. It has also entered into partnerships with other stakeholders and supports various initiatives of intergovernmental organisations.
The Olympic Movement Unit on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions
In the run-up to the Olympic Games London 2012, the IOC and stakeholders established the Joint Assessment Unit (JAU), a mechanism to gather and assess intelligence surrounding potential violations of sports integrity. The success of this initiative during London 2012 subsequently led to the creation of a Joint Integrity Intelligence Unit (JIIU) prior to every edition of the Olympic Games, which brings together the IOC, the Organising Committee, national authorities, law enforcement bodies and INTERPOL.
In 2014, the IOC went a step further with the launch of the Integrity Betting Intelligence System (IBIS). This system facilitates the smooth and efficient exchange of information and communication between the Olympic Movement and betting entities during the Olympic Games. IBIS has been operational at every edition of the Olympic Games since Sochi 2014. In 2017 it was decided to expand the remit of IBIS from the Olympic Games to other major sport events within the Olympic Movement.
In 2017, during the biannual meeting of the International Forum for Sports Integrity (IFSI), the decision was taken to create the OM Unit PMC to oversee the implementation of the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions by sports organisations, and support stakeholders in its uptake by providing practical resources.
The work of the OM Unit PMC is based on the 3 Pillar Strategy: (a) Regulation and Legislation, (b) Awareness Raising and Capacity Building, (c) Intelligence and Investigations. The 3 Pillars are inter-connected, and each is key to the efforts of the OM Unit PMC to protect clean athletes. The existence and adoption of regulations provides the basis for both awareness raising activities and investigations and intelligence. While awareness raising activities are key to ensuring that all sportspersons are aware of the rules in place. Meanwhile, implementation of the rules would be impossible without an elaborate intelligence and info-sharing system. When suspected rule violations take place, they can be thoroughly investigated, and sanctions can be applied based on the rules in place.
What is the legal framework?
At the international level
At an international legal level, the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions (Macolin Convention) is the only specific international convention to address competition manipulation. The Convention is open for signature to all states, both European and non-European. The provisions of the Macolin Convention cover criminal laws, sports betting regulations, sports regulations, awareness raising, prevention of conflict of interest, information sharing, creation of national cooperation frameworks, etc.
The IOC was involved in drafting the Convention, supports the Council of Europe in its implementation, and is closely cooperating with the network of existing national platforms, known as the “Group of Copenhagen”.
The specific legal framework for the sports Movement: The Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions
The Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions is an integral part of the Olympic Charter and the IOC Code of Ethics. It was approved by the IOC Executive Board in December 2015 and aims to provide sports organisations with harmonised regulations to protect competitions from manipulation. All sports organisations, including National Olympic Committees, International Sports Federations and their respective members at the continental, regional and national levels, as well as IOC-recognised organisations bound by the Olympic Charter, must implement this Code by referencing it or by implementing regulations in line with this Code.
Compliance with the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions is mandatory for the whole Olympic Movement during the Olympic Games. All International Sports Federations recognised by of the Olympic Movement are required to adopt and implement this code, as stipulated in Olympic Charter Rules 25 and 43.
Betting on competitions, manipulating an event, corrupt conduct, disclosing of inside information, failing to report, and failing to cooperate are all violations of the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions, which serves as the primary regulatory tool for the entire Olympic Movement.
The Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions is fully aligned with the Macolin Convention.
Sports betting at the Olympic Games
Since 2006, the IOC Code of Ethics has prohibited all accredited persons at the Olympic Games from betting on Olympic events. Furthermore, all participants have an obligation to report any approach or suspicion of manipulation. Specific rules are drafted for each edition of the Olympic Games.
Who should my organisation contact for questions?
The Olympic Movement Unit on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions
For more information about the 3 pillar strategy, as an athlete, a coach, a member of the athlete’s entourage or a stakeholder of the olympic movement, please read about our strategy below:
This Hotline can be used to report
- suspicious approaches or activities related to competition manipulation
- incidents of harassment and/or abuse
- any other infringements of the IOC Code of Ethics or other matters including financial misconduct or further legal, regulatory and ethical breaches over which the IOC has jurisdiction.