Importance of Education
A recent case from Rio reminds us that education plays a key role in protecting the integrity of sport. Strong education programmes remove athletes' ability to argue they didn’t know or understand the rules and are essential for sporting bodies and regulators. Good education goes hand-in-hand with appropriately drafted rules - Click here for a reminder of the rules sports governing bodies need to have in place as regards to betting.
The recent decision of the IOC Disciplinary Commission in Rio regarding Irish boxers Michael Conlon and Steven Donnelly also reminds us that the anonymity of the internet coupled with the sheer variety of different bets available means that sporting bodies must be more aware than ever of the possibility of betting-related corruption. The recent IOC Disciplinary Commission decision regarding Irish boxers Michael Conlan and Steven Donnelly was another reminder of this. The most noteworthy thing about the decision relating to Michael Conlan and Steven Donnelly was not that two Irish boxers had bet on the Olympic Games (there was no intent to manipulate any events), but rather the criticism of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) and the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for not educating athletes.
Participants at the Olympic Games are not permitted to bet on Olympic events and are obliged to report any approach or suspicion of manipulation. Although there was no intent to manipulate any event, the boxers were reprimanded and obliged to follow various integrity educational programmes before they can compete in the 2020 Games. This is of little consequence to either given that Conlan has turned professional and Donnelly intends to do likewise (although it is now open to professionals to compete in Olympic boxing).
The OCI was scolded for not having informed its athletes about the content of the rules applicable to them as regards betting, or about the content of the contract signed by the boxers. The AIBA was asked to make sure that its rules and regulations for its own competitions prevent inappropriate betting and to put in place education programmes.
While athletes are always primarily responsible for knowing their obligations, proper rules followed by good education facilitates strong enforcement.