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We are still naïve about match fixing

Lou Vincent's admission of match-fixing could be just the tip of an iceberg. (AAP Image/Hannah Johnston)
Roar Guru
26th September, 2014
5

Cricket, football tennis are some of Australia’s favourite sports. They are now also some of our most tarnished. It is time we realised that our sporting culture is under a real and imminent threat from match fixing, and we need to be proactive.

Close to home, six Victorian men are due to face (or are facing) court on charges of rigging the results of international tennis matches.

This is only a year after the Southern Stars Football Club had four players arrested for match fixing.

Corruption in sport is not just in our own backyard. It has made itself comfy on the couch, drank half the beer and will not hand over the remote.

It is just as bad across the ditch. Only months after former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent admitted to fixing matches, another former Kiwi international, Chris Cairns, is on trial for perjury.

The charges relate to a libel suit he launched in 2012 against IPL founder Lalit Modi, who alleged in 2010 that Cairns had fixed matches.

Then there’s the Pakistani cricketers banned in 2010. These people have been in contact with our cricketers, as both friend and foe, within various competitions around the world.

Perhaps the ongoing ASADA investigation has taken the wind out of us. Many people I know want to see the end more than the result. We want to go back to thinking that our sports stars are real Aussie battlers, tenacious as they go against the odds and doing their humanly best when they take the stage. Unfortunately, those days are gone.

So who do we need to keep our eye on? Trends from around the world show a pattern emerging. Caught athletes have generally been earning low to middle wages from their sport.

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They are not world-beaters, but are good enough to control their own destiny on the paddock. They have the least to lose and the most to gain. Most also participate in sports that are attractive to punters in unregulated betting markets such as on the sub-continent and in southeast Asia.

Cricket, tennis and football are already hit. Golf has potential – a wide range of incomes, popular in Asia and easy to influence. If you are not going to make the cut, why not get a double bogey on a par three and pick up a lazy $10,000?

Even Olympic athletes, who are getting by on a shoestring budget, could be seduced by black money. I have previously written that horse racing is dirty and nothing has changed my mind since.

I have no doubt that influencing results will inevitably link to doping. An athlete who gets hold of a banned substance becomes susceptible to blackmail from their retailer.

We used to think our sporting culture was our shield against this nefarious problem, but we need to realise that it makes us a target as well.

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