Cricket scandal highlights bigger problem: Rogge

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> IOC president Jacques Rogge believes the cricket match-fixing scandal shows that illegal betting has become as big a blight on sports as doping.

Updated: September 03, 2010 16:17 IST
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IOC president Jacques Rogge believes the cricket match-fixing scandal shows that illegal betting has become as big a blight on sports as doping.

Without taking any stand on the fixing allegations against three Pakistan cricketers, Rogge said Thursday the main problem for sports across the globe was illegal companies betting on incremental parts of a game.

"It is far more widespread than it really emerges. Yes, absolutely," he said.

After the doping scandals of the last decades, "now we have a second threat of the same magnitude -- illegal betting," he said.

British newspaper the News of the World alleged on Sunday that two Pakistani players were paid to deliberately bowl no-balls in the opening day of the fourth test against England at Lord's last week. The captain has also been implicated

Rogge says it's essential to increase cooperation with judicial authorities and Interpol, because phone tapping, house raids and luggage checks could be essential elements in investigations.

The IOC and sporting federations are working closely with legal betting companies to contain any fixing of matches or irregularities, but Rogge complained shadowy companies, mainly in Asia, still escape their grasp.

Since the major events are thoroughly checked, illegal betting syndicates have moved further down the chain, to lower-division games or centering on elements of a game that may not affect the overall outcome. He said the issue of no-balls fit the description.

"There are many (betting sites) in Asia that come up on the net, then disappear, that transform themselves. The identity of these websites who are not regulated by law is a very difficult one," Rogge said. "The website is unknown and the action on the match is very veiled. It could be a double-fault in tennis, a no-ball in cricket, a first corner in football.

"I am afraid we are in the situation we were with doping before, where people knew there was some doping but could not quantify it. Today, we can quantify doping. We need to quantify illegal betting."

The three Pakistan cricketers facing allegations of fixing insisted they were innocent Thursday, but withdrew from the rest of their team's tour of England. Their omission should allow Pakistan to play its two Twenty20 and five one-day international matches against England without objection from the England and Wales Cricket Board or International Cricket Council.

In other comments, Rogge said he was saddened to see the new anti-doping allegations surface against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. He added that U.S. authorities would be extremely exhaustive in their probe.

Jeff Novitzky, a Food and Drug Administration agent, and a federal prosecutor have been handling an inquiry into allegations of organized doping in professional cycling, including whether Armstrong and members of his U.S. Postal Service team may have been involved. Armstrong rode for the team when he won six of his record seven Tour titles.

"You know how thorough the judicial authorities are in the United States. They will go the long way to find anything, if possible. But, will they find something? That is the question mark," Rogge said.

Armstrong became a focus this spring after disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis, who won the 2006 Tour but was stripped of his title for doping, dropped long-standing denials and admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs. He also accused Armstrong of doping.

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