Sunday, April 18

Life bans for betting, fixing in badminton

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KUALA LUMPUR: Badminton players and others linked to the sport face possible lifetime bans for betting on or fixing matches under toughened rules announced by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Thursday.

Under the tougher code of conduct, it will also be an offence for badminton players, officials and referees who fail to report knowledge of illegal betting or related infractions, to tamper with or destroy evidence; and not cooperating with BWF investigations, the Kuala Lumpur-based BWF said.

BWF secretary-general Thomas Lund said through the new code, BWF has robust power to gather information from badminton-related personnel to demand for interviews and also ask the alleged offender to hand over mobile phones, laptops and telephone records.

Personnel includes players, entourage, event staff, referees and volunteers who risk lifetime ban from the sport upon breaching the BWF’s upgraded ‘Code of Conduct in Relation to Betting, Wagering and Irregular Match Results’.

“BWF is committed to clean sport and this code is for everyone in badminton,” Lund said in a statement yesterday. “It covers almost all people associated with our sport and addresses circumstances that have come about with the evolution of badminton.”

Lund added: “The integrity of our sport is clearly a critical area which we take very seriously. We have an integrity unit and at the end of last year, we launched an integrity campaign which has been unveiling various initiatives to protect and support badminton’s integrity on all levels.

He said the new code, which covers players and their entourages, event staff, referees and volunteers, had been under review since 2010 and follows a tightening of anti-doping rules in January.

Badminton was hit by a match-fixing scandal at the 2012 London Olympics when eight players, from China, South Korea and Indonesia, were kicked out of the women’s doubles for deliberately trying to lose matches.

Officials also raised the alarm about betting after Danish players Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and Kim Astrup said in October that they received offers to throw matches. They said the offers were made by a Malaysian man who claimed to have previously fixed matches in the Singapore Open and Thomas Cup.

The new code prescribes tougher sanctions for violations. “In serious cases, this could mean a lifetime ban from badminton,” the BWF statement said.

Match-fixing and illegal betting have emerged as concerns in a number of sports, including football and cricket. Tennis was also rocked by match-fixing allegations in a joint BBC/BuzzFeed investigation published before January’s Australian Open. — Bernama/AFP/Reuters