What is happening with the intersection of sports and corruption? It seems as if several pillars of the international sporting world have come crashing down in the past few months through corruption scandals.
Obviously the FIFA scandal is paramount on the minds of many people since the indictments of senior FIFA officials in May. Just this past week, the scandal went to a new level with the announcement that FIFA was seeking to ban disgraced (and suspended) President Sepp Blatter and executive committee member Michel Platini for life.
Yet FIFA is not the only sporting organization that has faced such challenges. Earlier this month, an independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed widespread use of performance enhancing drugs and blood doping by Russian track and field athletes, who were encouraged and covered up by coaches, doctors, and state and sports officials. The report was released after a year-long investigation.
This doping scheme was viewed as a comprehensive state-sponsored program, with everyone in Russia in on the plan. The fallout led president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), Sebastian Coe, to contemplate a ban of Russian athletes from the 2016 Olympics.
Finally there was the report that the immediate past IAAF president, Lamine Diack, was put under criminal investigation last week on suspicion of corruption and money laundering. The charges were brought by French prosecutors, acting on evidence provided by the WADA-appointed commission. Diack was accused of accepting bribes to cover up the doping and failed tests of Russian athletes. A report from the CBC said the amounts paid by Russian athletes as bribes to hush up positive drug tests ranged into the six figures (in euros, not dollars).
The convergence of all these corruption scandals around international sporting bodies may give impetus to a long needed change in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Yes, a list exists of non-governmental organizations exempt from the FCPA—and that list has not been updated in more than 10 years. It may well be time to consider the revision.
As was noted in the FCPA Blog: “The question isn't new. In September 1999, after the Salt Lake City scandal, the International Olympic Committee approached the OECD and asked to be governed by the anti-bribery convention. The OECD said the IOC could not be governed by the convention because it is not a public international organization… If NGOs can be public international organizations for purposes of the OECD convention and global anti-corruption regimes, the fight against graft would benefit from a very interesting extension to the reach of the current international anti-bribery framework.”