Minister takes racing to task over integrity
Date: November 8 2012
AS THREE jockeys remain under investigation, Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy has warned horse racing officials their sport will be undermined unless they maintain its integrity.
Champion jockey Damien Oliver is being pursued over a betting scandal and Jim Cassidy for receiving corrupt payments, while another as yet unnamed counterpart is also facing serious allegations.
While announcing the establishment of the National Integrity of Sport unit, Lundy said horse racing needed to confront its demons.
"That sport needs to face its own challenges. Obviously, there are investigations under way," she said on Wednesday.
"It's a good example of how the state jurisdiction has a primary role to play in some sports, certainly with gambling regulations.
"Each and every industry of that nature needs to be mindful that the cumulative effect of all these scandals does undermine confidence in the industry and everyone does have a role to play in strengthening it."
As revealed by Fairfax Media, Oliver has admitted to racing authorities that he bet on a rival horse — Miss Octopussy at Moonee Valley — in a 2010 race and expects to be charged soon. Jockeys are banned from betting on any horse.
Oliver has been allowed to continue riding during the spring carnival and hasn't been charged by stewards, intensifying pressure on Victorian Racing Minister Denis Napthine and authorities to act.
Lundy said claims of fixing continued to haunt several sports.
"There is hardly a day go by where there isn't a story as we have seen recently about a challenge to the integrity of sport," she said.
Lundy attended a meeting of Commonwealth sports ministers in July where ways to handle match fixing and illegal sports betting were major topics.
She hopes the new Australian unit will help local sporting bodies deal with the possible threats, although it does not have enforcement or investigative powers.
"I think there are lots of things going on at the moment," Lundy said.
"We have been focusing on match fixing today but in other areas as well, such as doping, there are many challenges out there affecting the public's perception and confidence in the integrity of sport.
"Match fixing is certainly one of them.
"Everyone is on notice that match-fixing and corrupting the integrity of sport is something we are certainly lifting our eye on and improving our statute so we can stamp it out effectively."