In the light of the Renault scandal in Formula 1, Bloodgate in rugby union, and football scandals such as the one Juventus was relegated for in Serie A, is it too easy for sporting authorities to blame gambling for all its integrity problems?
Fair enough, there are obviously some issues with it, but ever since there has been a prize for winning a competition, people have found devious ways to win, or stop others from winning. Look at scandals in kids' beauty pageants, flower growing contests, elections, tanking for better draft picks etc - where someone has something to gain, cheating will never be far away. And that's without even discussing drugs in sport.
Biggest threat to Sports Integrity comes from within
While no one can argue that manipulation of sports by betting syndicates does not exist, the reality is that the most concerted efforts at manipulation are made by criminal elements via illegal bookmakers, and not as it is suggested, by online gamblers who in the majority bet for relatively small stakes through regulated bookmakers.
Sport has becoming an increasingly lucrative business as demonstrated by the salaries of the top sports people. In football for instance, the combined salaries of the top three highest paid players amounts to an incredible €80 million.
With such lucrative compensation packages on offer to sports people, and equally lucrative opportunities existing for the teams, it is little wonder that those at the pinnacle of sports are willing to do anything necessary to win a slice of the financial pie, from theatrical diving in football to life threatening choreographed crashes in Formula 1.
The most recent scandals in sport boil down to the issue of money, but it is not gambling money that causes these actions. The actions of certain teams and players that have recently caught the international headlines are planned and executed from within in order to manipulate referees and the situation at hand in their favour, thereby securing their interests in an increasingly lucrative industry.
Sports need to get their own houses in order first before they can apportion all of the blame on the gambling industry. And it is very rare that legalised, regulated gambling is the source of the problem - after all, bookies are there to win money and minimise risk. The first sign of something being fishy and alarm bells ring worldwide...