PtG Article 03.10.2011

Senior IOC-member: IOC must mobilise sports organisations to deal with corruption

The IOC should take the lead in mobilising sports organisations to deal with corruption. Although sports organisations are unable to fight corruption without the help of authorities, it would be wrong to expect governments to take the lead, former WADA President and long-term IOC member, Richard W. Pound, said at the opening of the 2011 Play the Game conference in Cologne.

Richard W. Pound has been around international sport for a long time and has long-term practical experience of cleaning up when sport gets into trouble. Now he believes it is high time to address the problems of corruption in sport where sports officials, athletes, governments and regulators have neglected to deal with activities which have become endemic and have badly wounded the integrity of competitive sports.

"Something which all sport organisations should understand is that if public confidence in the integrity of competition is lost, the public will look elsewhere for its entertainment and will no longer support manipulated competitions", he said and warned against sport going the way of the World Wrestling Foundation that now has been reduced to entertainment.

"If the sports authorities are not prepared to spend whatever is required to ensure the integrity of sport, they will inevitably bear the consequences of this neglect," Pound continued, and argued that the IOC should be the driver of change within the sports organisations.

"The IOC will have to develop a comprehensive plan to combat corruption in all its forms. It will have to analyse which actions can be taken by sport, which by governments alone, and which on a shared basis. It will have to then convince sports organisations that they must buy into their own responsibilities and to make meaningful efforts to respond to these responsibilities before they can hope to convince governments of the importance of governmental involvement in the whole process", Pound argued.

Not ready for an agency yet

In the last few years, a number of people have argued that the world needs an anti-corruption agency based on a model similar to WADA. But Pound is not convinced that will be the right way forward.

"I think it is much too early to decide whether this model would be effective in dealing with the many forms of corruption which now exist in sport and which may exist in the future.  The range of possibilities is much greater than the limited problem of doping. The experience and skill sets required to deal with corruption, particularly international corruption, are quite different from those applicable to doping," he said.

But on the other hand Pound saw potential in the cooperation between public and sports authorities:

"I think the combination could be quite interesting and, perhaps, even more effective than current international mechanisms dealing with ordinary commercial fraud, money laundering and offshore financial and tax havens. The combination of confiscatory and sport sanctions might well prove to be a greater deterrent that the limited international sanctions which now exist in the commercial field," he said.

Sponsors should be involved

Pound also said it was important to look at how sponsors could help combat corruption in sport.

"Remember that if sponsorship disappears from organised sport, organised sport disappears from the face of the planet. Organised sport, particularly professional sport, depends on private sector support, not government support. The private sector is, therefore, in a position to insist that any organisation it sponsors be free of corruption," Pound argued.

He said that anti-corruption provision should be included in sponsor contracts which would allow the sponsor to withdraw at any time if corruption occurred and to recover any amounts paid in respect of the sponsorship, plus amounts incurred by the sponsor in activation of the sponsorship.

Read the whole speech by Richard W. Pound