March 26, 2013: Last week, I was in Doha, Qatar at a Securing Sport Conference where the focus was discussing ways to advance security and integrity in order to safeguard the future of sport. The conference provided a new perspective on sport integrity and the danger that world sport is facing from corruption, match fixing, money laundering, illegal betting and doping to name a few. World Sport has finally discovered all is not what it seems.
Globally, the values of sport are been subverted by economic and politically well-connected individuals with a value system that has a belief that money can buy anything. Corruption is thriving in global sport by destroying the core values of sport of which integrity is fundamental.
Based on what I heard in Qatar, the greatest danger to the autonomy and independence of sport is not politicians and government but money. Not the lack of money but the use and power of money. So while sport leaders were focused in recent years on protecting sport from politics and politicians, economic influence had a free run.
To protect sport in general and safeguard its autonomy sport must resist all pressures whether of a political or economic nature. A for sale sign can’t be put on the integrity of sport nor can it be put on the integrity and core values of a nation. The sport fraternity here in T&T must not believe for one minute that what was spoken about in Qatar will not happen here. Corruption thrives where fear is prevalent.
Law abiding citizens are afraid to speak up. Why? They fear retribution and disapproval. To simply be offended by wrongdoing is not enough. We must summon the courage to confront our fears and take action. If we just let things slide, we are complicit.
Courage is the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear. When you see something happening that just doesn’t seem right do you have the courage to stand-up and do something?
Even though I was not in T&T to watch the inauguration of His Excellency President Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, I have since read his speech and noted the acclamation with which his speech was received. His words lifted the nation’s spirit. They were encouraging and inspiring.
Who in T&T is not tired, frustrated and fed up of the corruption and double standards? We all need to feel that there is hope. Unethical behaviour must disturb something deep within our soul when we see it.
We must shine the light on the dark corners and right now the darkest is corruption. Shine the light. Question every detail. Ask about procurement, ask about nepotism. Creative accounting is a euphemism for hiding corruption, fraud, bribery, and abuse and misuse of funds.
I believe real change will only occur when more citizens are willing to be bold and brave and follow President Carmona’s example and display the courage to stand up and speak out for moral and ethical values and social justice.
Brian Lewis is the Honorary Secretary General of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee http//: ww.ttoc.org. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC.
Longtime sport administrator Brian Lewis believes Trinidad and Tobago need to be extra vigilant to the threat of organised crime, doping, illegal betting and other issues plaguing world sport.
The T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) secretary general attended the March 18-19 Securing Sport 2013 conference in Doha Qatar, hosted by the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) representing Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Caribbean region vice president Fortuna Belrose.
For Lewis, the conference was “an eye opener”, and he has also said that activities like “organised crime, illegal betting, doping, money laundering and corruption” are a danger to the “core values and ethos of sport”.
“Sport as we know it is in danger,” Lewis said via media release on Saturday. “Here in T&T we can’t be naive. The threat will be soon hit our shores if it is not here already.”
Lewis advised that the TTOC should “take the lead and look at ways of raising awareness and education”. He said that athletes, coaches and national sporting organisations (NSOs) need to be better informed so that risks can be managed.
At the conference, Lewis revealed, experts made presentations on different areas affecting sport, including anti-doping, anti-corruption, counter terrorism, public health, organised crime and public policy.
“I am convinced that the conference presenters weren’t crying wolf,” Lewis also stated. “The evidence presented was compelling. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. T&T sport must take heed. Doing nothing is not an option. It is serious. I am sounding a warning.”
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