Ireland is to play a central role in European Governmental moves to protect the integrity of sport.
During the Irish Presidency of the EU, Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Michael Ring will serve as Chair of the EU Council of Sports Ministers. He said on Tuesday that one of his primary focuses will be on protecting the integrity of sport.
The announcement comes as storm clouds gather over sport following the revelations of Lance Armstrong’s doping and Europol’s investigation of elite soccer.
“The threat to sports integrity caused by dishonesty is one of the most serious challenges facing it,” said Ring.   “Recent developments have yet again highlighted the corruption that can exist in some areas of sport, from athletes trying gain an advantage from taking banned substances, to criminal syndicates attempting to pervert fair competition for financial gain.”
“We cannot simply assume that the sort of activity highlighted by Europol this week is a problem that will not affect Ireland. We need to play our part internationally and cooperate with the relevant authorities to ensure that this problem does not impact sport in Ireland.
“While recognising that sport policy remains a matter for Member States, the new EU competence for sport allows the EU and Member States the opportunity to work more closely together to address issues of common interest and share best practice.
“It also gives us the opportunity to speak with one voice at international level, particularly in areas such as the fight against doping and against corruption in sport.  Working together we can strive to better protect the integrity of sport through targeting cheating at all levels and promote healthy, fair and enjoyable sport.
“The Council of Europe has begun negotiations on an International Convention against manipulation of sports results and Ireland will participate in these negotiations.  The Irish Presidency will follow closely international developments on the issue of match-fixing, while leading efforts at EU level.”
Ireland will host a major conference on sport at Dublin Castle on March 7th.  Its theme will be the financial stability of sport at grassroots level and there will be a respected international panel of international as well as Irish speakers.  Sport for Business will be there to contribute and to learn for the community some of the ideas that emerge.
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