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September 11, 2000
Betting raises ethical queriesAndrew Gray
The International Olympic Committee's ethics commission said on Monday it wanted to ban athletes from betting on their own or their rivals' performances.
The commission decided the pratice was against the "fundamental ethical principles which are at the foundation of Olympism", the body's chairman Keba Mbaye of Senegal told the IOC Session in Sydney.
"Betting on yourself or your opponents -- that's what we dont' accept," he told Reuters in a break during the Session, taking place ahead of the opening of the Sydney Games on Friday.
IOC vice-president Kevan Gosper said the IOC's executive board had asked legal experts to study where best to insert a clause in the Olympic Charter which would specifically ban betting and set out the sanctions an athlete would face.
The issue of betting has caused controversy in the lead-up to the Sydney Games after the Australian Olympic Committee announced in July its athletes were free to bet on themselves or rivals.
Some sports officials saw the ruling as accepting the inevitable in a country mad about both sport and gambling. But others, including many at the IOC, feel very differently.
Mbaye said that under his interpretation of the current rules governing athletes' participation in the Games, betting was already banned because of the new ruling by his commission.
"It is stated (in the rules) that to take part in the Olympic Games, you have to respect the fundamental principles and we've said that betting on yourself or your opponents is a violation of the fundamental principles," he said.
But other IOC members said the position was still unclear and urged caution when drafting the clause for the Olympic Charter, the document which underpins the movement.
Denis Oswald, the president of the Association of Summer Olympic Sports Federations, noted that football pools -- betting on the results of a series of soccer matches -- were a vital source of funding for sports in many countries.
He suggested soccer players should still be allowed to play the pools.
"The IOC has to be clear and recognise that money to sport is coming from a certain form of betting and that we should be careful in formulating the IOC's position in order not to exlcude that form of betting," Oswald told Reuters.
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