The International Olympic Committee is setting up a new system to watch for corrupt betting practices linked to Olympic competitions.
It's scheduled to be in place for the 2010 Vancouver Games. The monitoring program is part of broadening efforts in sports to tackle irregular betting and match-fixing.
A new Swiss company, International Sports Monitoring, will watch betting at the Vancouver Olympics in February and the 2012 London Olympics. It will get information on betting patterns from 400-450 oddsmakers, betting firms and lotteries and flag any irregularities for investigation.
Athletes at Vancouver will be educated about the new program. All those accredited for the games, including athletes, are barred from betting on Olympic competitions.
At last year's Beijing Games, the IOC used a system set up by FIFA for soccer to watch for irregular betting on Olympic competitions. The monitoring found that a wide array of bets were offered for all Olympic sports, but that bets laid were generally small _ between $7 to $70, the IOC says. It says there were no cases of irregular betting.
"The results of the monitoring were very encouraging, there was not much betting," IOC member Thomas Bach told The Associated Press on Sunday. "There was not a single bet where the alarms started ringing.
"If it happens, it is too late, so we want to be pro-active and to avoid any kind of match-fixing."
UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, is investigating 40 cases of suspected match-fixing in the Champions League and UEFA Cup, mostly involving eastern European clubs. The matches being scrutinized for suspicious betting patterns involved early qualifying games that took place over the last four seasons. Fifteen matches were played in the last two years.
UEFA has beefed up its warning system to protect against illegal betting and match-fixing, and started a special investigation to clamp down on the problem. Tennis also has a unit to investigate suspected corruption.
The senior vice president of the World Lottery Association, Risto Nieminen, told the AP that the problem of match-fixing and irregular betting in sports "is far more serious than people understand."
"It's a much larger threat to sport than doping," said Nieminen, whose association groups state lottery and gaming organizations from 76 countries. "It is really worrying. I think the most worrying part is if there is a connection to organized crime."
The IOC first noticed internet bets being offered on Olympic competitions, mainly track and field, at the 2004 Athens Games. It formed a group to study the issue and in 2006 formalized rules banning all those with accreditation from betting on Olympic competitions. Athletes suspected of involvement in gambling can be called before a disciplinary commission.
© 2009 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.