A World Anti-Corruption Agency.
It is time to change the rules of engagement, to put the autonomy of sport on a new footing, and reorganise it around accountability and transparency. There is clearly a need for an independent watchdog organisation with transnational reach and the power to act in cases of corruption:
WACA would signal to would-be perpetrators that they will be held accountable and send a powerful message to the public that lawmakers care about safeguarding the integrity of sport.
Work on the basis of an anti-corruption code adopted across sports and with the mandate to monitor compliance and impose disciplinary sanctions.
Be a focal point for athletes and whistleblowers
to report on corruption and create a safe
environment for them.
Provide independent intelligence and investigations, which international federations often claim not to have the financial and human resources for.
Alleviate a problem that is typical in the fight against transnational corruption in sports: obtaining evidence. This is often difficult as government officials can also be sports officials.
Oblige members of sports organizations to follow the anti-corruption code and to cooperate with WACA, which would allow for disciplinary sanctions/bans if disclosure is refused.
Serve as a liaison between sports organizations and law enforcement agencies, and empower the latter to prosecute transnational sports corruption more effectively.
HOW WE WOULD SET UP WACA
WACA’s mandate covers all types of corruption in sport, including match-fixing and abuse. It does not cover doping violations.
The agency ensures compliance with the Code-to-develop (including monitoring). It has a broad mandate to detect, investigate and sanction violations, and to liaise with law enforcement agencies to facilitate prosecution of criminal offences.
WACA shall handle alleged/reported violations of the Anti-Corruption Code as well as having the mandate to proceed upon becoming aware of any information that may constitute violation any other way.
WADA’s inherent lack of independence,
as evident in the composition of the
Foundation Board and the Executive
Committee, is criticized (not only) by
athletes. The Foundation Board is composed equally of representatives from the Olympic movement and public authorities/governments. Both are dominating the Executive Committee as well. Ensuing conflicts of interest have undermined WADA’s work and have been exposed for example in the poor handling of the
Russian doping scandal.
WACA, with a focus on fighting corruption, would probably target more sports officials than WADA ever has. Therefore, WACA should not be controlled or run by personalities from sports organizations.
SCOPE OF APPLICATION
OF THE CODE
- IOC members, administration and
affiliates of the IOC, continental Olympic federations.
- International federations and administration, their continental affiliates, their boards and commissions.
- NOCs + boards of national federations
in cases with transnational dimension.
- Athletes, coaches and support personnel, referees, agents.
- Sponsors and rights holders.
- Members of bidding and organizing
committees of international competitions and event organizers.
- Cities and their officials taking part in
any type of candidature procedures for
hosting a competition.
- Operating a confidential whistleblower-platform/hotline for reporting.
- Investigating/evidence gathering:
having the mandate to fully investigate
alleged/suspected cases of corruption,
including the right to search sports
offices etc. without prior notice.
having the mandate to issue disciplinary bans against individuals or groups who violate the Code and suspend those who are under investigation,
- Cooperation with law enforcement:
having the mandate to cooperate with law enforcement, either to bring cases to national/international police agencies and/or state prosecutors and/or to investigate on behalf of law enforcement agencies.
- Monitoring that the Code is respected.
Possibly at the top people with experience in law enforcement; a past in sport can be an asset, however, current ties to sports organizations should be an exclusion criterion.
Not in Switzerland, home of the Olympic family & CAS, but WACA should be located close, i.e., in a European country with a robust justice system and traditions of respect for the rule of law, strong law enforcement
and a culture of accountability,
where WACA would have the political
support from its host nation to proceed
according to its broad mandate.
Since cooperation with Europol and Interpol is likely in some cases, The Hague in the Netherlands offers an ideal location, with France providing additional options.
To ensure independence and to open up avenues for funding, WACA (like WADA) should be set up as a foundation. Depending on the location of the headquarters, the requirements for the organisational
structure may vary.
Not involved in the day-to-day management of WACA but monitoring the executive activity and contributing to the development strategy. The members appoint the Chief Executive.
The Executive is accountable to the Board. Sports organizations should not delegate more than a third of the members.
To guarantee permanent funding, a model close to WADA is recommended, for which governments and sports equally pay annual contributions.
Alternatively, the idea of requiring the
IOC, sports federations and NOCs to contribute a certain percentage of revenues should be pursued. However, top Olympic sponsors and other sponsors (from the betting industry, among others) should be more involved in the funding than
they are at WADA. The tasks of WACA to safeguard the integrity of sport should be in the interest of sponsors (at least those from democratic countries) who currently have to deal with an ecosystem that poses risks to reduce the brand loyalty rather than lifting it through fan (customer)-identification with sports.
Sports organizations can reduce their
own investigative bodies and save the
expenses for private companies, which
are often hired to investigate the big
corruption cases. That could partially
pay for WACA. Such companies can then be hired by WACA, if necessary.