Sport integrity refers to the preservation and promotion of fair play, honesty, and ethical conduct within athletic competitions so that trust in the outcome is maintained. It ensures that participants compete on a level playing field where skill and fair play determine the outcomes of games.
Athletes or others who are accused of attempting to unduly influence the outcome of a competition can be subject to harsh penalties. Global Sports Advocates represents clients accused of sport integrity violations through all steps of the disciplinary process.
Types of Sport Integrity Violations
Fair play is an essential principle in any athletic event, but violations of sport integrity rules can take many forms. Some examples of common violations related to sport integrity include:
- Sports betting. Betting on sport by players is often forbidden, and problems can occur when athletes or officials bet on their own sport.
- Manipulation. Sometimes referred to as match-fixing, manipulation is any improper alteration of a competition to win money through sports betting directly or to ensure that a third party wins their bet.
- Giving or receiving gifts. Providing, offering, requesting, or accepting gifts is not permitted when the gift might reasonably be expected to lead to competition manipulation.
- Corrupt conduct. Blackmail, bribery, or other conduct that induces, instructs, facilities, or encourages an applicable person to engage in match-fixing and other forms of competition manipulation is not permitted.
- Trading inside information. Athletes, officials, and support personnel must not share private information, such as team tactics or player injuries, for betting or other corrupt conduct.
- Failure to report. An athlete must report behavior that seems unethical.
- Failure to cooperate. An athlete must cooperate with an investigation into a sport integrity violation.
Although most violations are related to gambling and match-fixing is most common in areas where there are vast illegal gambling markets, it's important to note that corruption can occur for other reasons as well. For example, a player may take advantage of tournament schedules that incentivize poor performance in the earlier stages to receive a more favorable match-up later or earn additional rest before a more lucrative upcoming tournament.
Disciplinary Process and Possible Penalties
The disciplinary process for sport integrity violations varies depending on your sport. For example, all sports organizations bound by the Olympic Charter require athletes to comply with the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions. This code allows for a provisional suspension when there is a risk to the reputation of the sport but permits consideration of all aggravating and mitigating circumstances in determining the consequences of a violation. Sanctions may range from a minimum of a warning to a maximum of a lifetime ban.
The UFC Athlete Conduct Policy forbids athletes from placing any wagers, including those made through a third party, on any UFC match and notes that criminal sanctions may apply in states with legalized sports betting. Sanctions can include contractual penalties, suspension of performance under the independent contractor agreement, and/or termination of the independent contractor relationship.
In the NCAA, student-athletes who violate sports wagering rules will be ineligible for competition but may appeal to the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement. Additional penalties will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Don't Take Chances With Your Future
If you've been accused of violating sport integrity rules, you need to retain an experienced sports lawyer as soon as possible. These violations can damage your professional reputation and put everything you've worked for at risk.
When you're facing the possibility of disciplinary action related to sport integrity or competition manipulation, Global Sports Advocates can help. Experienced sports law attorneys Paul Greene and Matthew Kaiser understand your passion for the pursuit of excellence and will prepare a strong defense against the allegations you are facing. Contact us online or call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule an initial one-hour consultation.