Interpol head warns of London Olympic cheats
LONDON (Reuters) - This year's London Olympics are at risk from athletes cheating at the behest of illegal betting syndicates trying to fix results or parts of competitions, the head of Interpol said Thursday.
Ronald Noble, general secretary of the French-based international police agency, said the prevalence of sports events being fixed suggested that the Olympic Games would also be targeted by gambling rings.
"I've got to believe since it's occurring so much in football and other sports we have reason to believe there is a risk of it occurring in the Olympics," Noble told reporters in London.
"The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that he and the Olympics should be concerned about irregular or illegal betting occurring in the context of the Olympics."
Noble's warning echoes that of British Olympics minister Hugh Robertson who said this month the integrity of the Games could be shattered by the "enormous" threat from those trying to fix results.
That prompted Betfair, the world's largest betting exchange, to agree to share information with the IOC on potentially suspect gambling.
Britain's National Olympic Security Coordinator Chris Allison told Reuters police were working very closely with the IOC and the London Games organizing committee to ensure all those in the sport knew such behavior was unacceptable.
"If intelligence comes to light individuals are involved in this sort of activity then we will take action, we'll investigate it and take the necessary against them," he said.
Noble said the greatest problem was competitors rigging part of events.
Cricket has been a high-profile victim of "spot fixing" in Britain with three Pakistan test players jailed by a London court in November for rigging parts of a match against England in 2010.
Earlier this month, an English domestic cricketer also pleaded guilty to taking money in order to bowl badly in a televised game.
"What we're finding more and more is not just the outcome but betting on something unusual that will happen during the competition itself," Noble said.
Both Noble and Allison said there was no specific intelligence or information on the internet indicating that the Olympics were a target for any terrorist attack, which remains one of the security chiefs' top concerns.
Noble said Interpol would be sending a team to London to help British officials with identity checks of those trying to enter the country.
Thursday, a committee of British lawmakers said it was shocked at the number of times strict checks had been waived at UK airports and ports because they had become too busy, blaming the Home Office (interior ministry) for a lack of supervision.
Home Secretary Theresa May said last November Britain would never know for certain how many suspected terrorists were waved into the country since July 2011, when border officials suspended some checks on European Union nationals.
Noble praised Britain's border regime saying it was one of just a few countries which routinely checked the Interpol database which holds details of 31 million fraudulent identities, saying Britain had performed 139 million such inquiries.
"The only problem the UK appears to have is the number of people at the immigration posts," he said.
Noble said Britain was far better placed than most countries bound by the Schengen Agreement, which eliminated border controls between about two dozen European states.
"Only a couple of the Schengen countries are systematically screening our database which puts all Schengen countries at risk," he said, blaming a lack of political will and the "absence of a tragedy."
Allison, speaking by the River Thames where police and military units were carrying out a series of exercises to guard against a possible waterborne attack, said lots of work had gone into border protection.
"I'm working very closely with colleagues from UK Borders Agency to ensure the borders are safe and secure, to ensure that people who shouldn't get into this country, don't get into the country," he said.
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