‘Corruption is a global business’ – insights from our sports integrity webinar

Oct 13, 2022
How can sport tackle the global business of corruption? We reveal key advice from the experts in our sports integrity webinar.
  • Collaborate hands on 
  • Tackle the problem, not the symptoms 
  • Invest in technology  

Those were top-line action points for the sports integrity community following Clue’s live webinar Protecting sport with proactive counter corruption strategy (October 12th). 

Martin Dubbey, Managing Director at Harod Associates an investigation professional whose extensive resume includes the Sochi doping scandal – chaired a line-up of sports integrity representatives spanning law enforcement (FBI, Interpol), governance and testing (Esports Integrity Commission, UK Anti-Doping), and The Hong Kong Jockey Club.  

The panel provided frontline perspectives on the challenges of counter corruption, match manipulation and doping in sport around the world.  

Rewatch the webinar below or read on for our rundown of key points.  

Play to your strengths together to connect the dots

We cannot fight the sports integrity battle alone, said Dieter Braekveld, Integrity in Sports Training Officer at INTERPOL 

“Many sports organisations are doing really, really good work,” he said, but rules and regulations only go as far as their own athletes and officials.  

Moving toward prevention requires continual proactive efforts to stimulate conversation between governing bodies, law enforcement, judicial authorities, and public prosecutors.  

“In the area of corruption, getting sufficient proof to the standard of beyond any reasonable doubt can be quite challenging … collaboration of everyone is needed.” 

Building trust, identifying single points of contact within organisations, and instilling a sense of shared responsibility is crucial, advised Dieter. 

Heriberto ‘Beto’ Quiroga, Head of the Integrity in Sport & Gaming programme at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), agreed: “Without collaboration and data sharing, [sports corruption cases] are not easy to work or prove.

“Unlike other investigations, there’s no smoking gun.” 

Echoing his INTERPOL counterpart, Beto said successful cases rely on working with partners to connect the dots. “What may not mean much to one entity, could mean a lot to another.” 

The FBI’s sport integrity and gaming unit doesn’t limit itself on how it receives or shares information. The more information gathered, the better the Bureau can identify new and developing trends to stay ahead of a sophisticated criminal opposition.  

“I think that some of the way that we can improve this data sharing is by doing more of what we’re doing here [in this webinar], right – continuing that liaison work, knowing who to reach out to…” 

Tackle the root of the problem to protect athletes

Huge sums of money are spent on testing, said Pat Myhill, Director of Operations, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD)A test reveals instances of doping at an individual athlete level, but it won’t reveal who administered it, who trafficked it or where it originated from.  

“The reality is … [testing] can’t be the only answer to detecting doping and detecting it early.” 

Protecting athletes from doping requires innovative and effective intelligence and investigation techniques that tackle the problem wholesale.  

UKAD works closely with partners, including the National Crime Agency (NCA), Border Force, customs, regional crime squads, and regulators to gather intelligence and tackle the root of the sports doping problem.  

Testament to these strategic partnerships and collaborations, a UKAD investigation led to the prosecution of criminals behind the smuggling and distribution of anabolic steroids worth £65 million into the UK.  

“There’s an amazing amount of data available … we’re moving into the area of data analytics to help us drive forward our effectiveness,” Pat said.  

“We’ve got great hopes that this will improve our early detection of doping.” 

Clue was joined by a global panel of sports integrity experts from law enforcement, governance and clubs.

Clue was joined by a global panel of sports integrity experts from law enforcement, governance and clubs.

Ian Smith, Integrity Commissioner at the Esports Integrity Commission tackles corruption, doping and match manipulation in the fast-growing yet under-regulated e-gaming sector.  

In any sports integrity work, athletes are “the most important people in the scenario,” Ian said. “Build genuine trust with your athletes by working for them, not against them.” 

The “unique” problems presented by the sport mean Ian’s team relies on a plethora of reporting and information gathering methods, from secure whistleblower reports and open-source intelligence, to tackle match manipulation and protect athletes. 

However, ESIC’s suspicious bet alert network is “by far the most important” asset.

Comprising betting operators, global lotteries, monitoring services, the International Betting Integrity Association, and data companies such as Genius Sports and Sportradar, this network provides a rich, evolving picture of shared intelligence where suspicious activity can be tracked back to individuals placing bets.  

When it comes to gathering data and intelligence, said Ian, “don’t be squeamish, be pragmatic, and engage directly with the betting industry […] don’t be fussy about whether it’s licensed, unlicensed, legal or illegal. Because these are distinctions that only mean something in single jurisdictions…” 

“[Match manipulation] is very seldom a regional thing … it’s a global business.” 

Be bold with new tech to evolve your operations

Too often, sports organisations “wait for that call” to be alerted of suspicious activity, said Tom Chignell, Executive Manager, Racing Integrity & Betting Analysis, The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) 

“But I’m of the opinion that sports can do more to monitor their own betting analytics … there is a lot more opportunity [for in-house technology] now compared to where we were 10 years ago.” 

In two decades, the HKJC has moved from pen and paper and betting pages to powerful data analytics.  

At the time of our webinar, the HKJC was processing more than a million data points from a live race, which were being “automatically processed and fed to me in real-time,” said Tom.  

In-house monitoring technology can enable organisations to monitor specific participant, corroborate intelligence, and disrupt potential wrongdoing more effectively.  

While organisations will require the right skillsets, cloud computing, user-friendly interfaces, lowering costs and quick implementation times mean advanced systems are now “very feasible for the world’s leading sports to put into practice.” 

Investment and awareness around the capabilities of existing and emerging technologies was an additional talking point for panel host Martin, whose organisation Harod Associates has deployed voice analytics to identify suspicious players and officials and direct lines of enquiry.  

The company recently conducted a series of interviews with boxing officials around match manipulation and bribery and determined with voice analytics technology that 30% of respondents were in a high-risk category.  

Learn how Clue helps sports organisations, including teams and governing bodies, protect sports integrity with better intelligence, enhanced investigations, and seamless data sharing.

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