IOC pledges task force on illegal betting

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Warning that sport is "in danger" from illegal betting and match-fixing, the International Olympic Committee will create a task force to coordinate the fight against the multibillion-dollar underground industry.

Stressing the need to act with urgency, IOC president Jacques Rogge announced the initiative Tuesday after hosting a summit of sports leaders, politicians, licensed betting operators and international police agency Interpol.

"I think that sport is in danger. Illegal betting is on the rise and we absolutely have to fight that," Rogge said of an industry that Interpol estimates was worth $140 billion last year.

"There is no safe haven. There is illegal betting where there is broadband Internet," the IOC leader said.

Delegates were told that the sporting world would "take years to recover" from a betting scandal on a global scale.

The conference heard details of fixing and betting scandals in the past six months involving soccer, cricket and sumo wrestling.

Rogge said the next step is a meeting within two weeks to choose task force members and set the agenda. A report is scheduled to be ready by the end of the year.

There are no immediate plans to create a global anti-corruption body similar to the World Anti-Doping Agency. David Howman, WADA's director general, made that suggestion last week.

Rogge said creation of a WADA-type body is one of three potential ways forward.

The second is using international conventions on cross-border crime and corruption drafted by the United Nations and European Union. A third way, preferred by government officials attending the summit from Australia, Britain and France, is the "pragmatic" approach.

"To build alliances, and build communication systems between sport and government and international bodies like Interpol," said Rogge, adding that law enforcement's powers to investigate and prosecute cases were crucial to success.

Rogge said the IOC, representing global sports, had an open mind on which route to take.

He said the responsibilities of sports include educating athletes and monitoring their own competitions for suspicious results and irregular betting on legal markets.

Betting industry leaders, described by Rogge as an "ally" in sport and anti-corruption efforts, told those at the meeting they would contribute funding and expertise to the project.

Regulated sports betting was estimated to be a $53 billion industry in 2010.