Church call for a ban on sports gam­bling

The Church of England - - NEWS -

A REPORT re­leased last week by the Aus­tralian Crime Com­mis­sion (ACC) that found “wide­spread” use of per­for­mance en­hanc­ing drugs by ath­letes, match-fix­ing and links be­tween sport and or­ga­nized crime has prompted the Angli­can Church to call for a ban on sports gam­bling.

On 8 Fe­bru­ary Bishop Phillip Hug­gins, chair­man of the Dio­cese of Mel­bourne So­cial Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said a mora­to­rium on bet­ting on ma­jor sports, in­clud­ing foot­ball, rugby and cricket, should be con­sid­ered by the government.

A sus­pen­sion of sports bet­ting would give the leagues time to “com­plete the clean-up now un­der way, and would re­move any pos­si­bil­ity that the win­ter games of the [Aus­tralian Foot­ball League] and [Na­tional Rugby League] would at­tract un­savoury spec­u­la­tion.”

At a 7 Fe­bru­ary Can­berra press con­fer­ence, Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ja­son Clare said “mul­ti­ple ath­letes from a num­ber of clubs in ma­jor Aus­tralian sport­ing codes are sus­pected of cur­rently us­ing or hav­ing pre­vi­ously used pep­tides, po­ten­tially con­sti­tut­ing anti-dop­ing rule vi­o­la­tions.

“It’s cheat­ing but it’s worse than that, it’s cheat- ing with the help of crim­i­nals,” he said.

The 47-page report found “clear par­al­lels” be­tween dop­ing amongst Aus­tralian ath­letes and the case of cy­clist Lance Arm­strong. Th­ese links un­der­scored “the trans-na­tional threat posed by dop­ing to pro­fes­sional sport,” the report said with the “dif­fer­ence” that “Aus­tralian threat is cur­rent”, cov­ers mul­ti­ple sports and “is evolv­ing.”

Mr Claire added that “links be­tween or­gan­ised crime and play­ers ex­poses play­ers to the risk of be­ing co-opted for match-fix­ing and this in­ves­ti­ga­tion has iden­ti­fied one pos­si­ble ex­am­ple of that and that is cur­rently un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

No names were men­tioned in the ACC’s report, Mr Clare said, as po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions were on­go­ing.

The “al­leged link­ages be­tween or­gan­ised crime and sport re­quire a strong united re­sponse aimed at restor­ing in­tegrity,” Bishop Hug­gins said, adding “the word ‘play’ is used in re­la­tion to sport­ing ‘games’. Th­ese words speak of an in­no­cence and in­tegrity we all want to re­cover, both in sport and in our com­mu­nity.”

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