Home > People > Partners


Submitted by- Tarini Mathur

“Sports do not build character, they reveal it.”


Sports has been a medium through which we get to see the raw form of every person’s mind, body and soul. Throughout history, many world-famous incidents have been recorded where athleteshave been celebrated for their integrity, grit and determination. But the pertinent question here is that where is the line, the limit which should not be crossed by the athletes in order to win?

Integrity is the most fundamental value of sport. Integrity in sport is largely addressed through concepts of fair play, respect for the game, sportsmanship, positive personal values of responsibility, compassion for the other, and honesty in adhering to rules.Corruption erodes the very spirit of sport. Without integrity, competitive sports are meaningless. Breaches of integrity not only damage values like fair play, honor and dignity of athletes and nations, but also shape a sport’s popularity, its business, sponsorship viability and even its survival. Many sports have taken active steps towards safeguarding competitions. The threats to integrity today are internationally significant and constantly evolving. The setting up of special sports authorities to provide for valued integrity support to all sports is the need of the hour.

The importance of regulation and integrity in sports have never before seen as much public scrutinyas in recent times. Allegations of cheating and match-fixing are common among almost all sports like cricket, football, snooker, horse-racing, tennis etc. Integrity is a major issue for sports bodies to address, with regulators bearing the burden of detecting and deterring any corrupt activities or evil practices within their sport which may be from outside influences or the sport’s own participants. In today’s society, the consequences of ignoring the threat to the integrity of sports may potentially lead to permanent damage of the sport’s reputation and loss of public confidence.Hence the 21st century has seen the emergence of sports law in order to legislate regarding sporting practices and to maintain an international standard for integrity and dignity of sports.


Human beings have been drawn to sports activities since time immemorial. From the beginning of human civilization, sports have evolved from a source of personal entertainment to a global industry which cannot successfully continue to grow at a consistent pace if there isn’t a healthy emphasis on ethical, legal and moral conduct. Certain attitudes, behaviors and values have a positive effect on sports integrity at different levels and across professional and amateur sports. POSITIVES IMPACT OF SPORTS INTEGRITY

Identifiable positive attitudes, behaviors and values in sport include:

  1. the enhancement of social support and self-esteem,
  2. sports as a site for socialization,
  3. the fostering of team building and
  4. the provision of discipline, positive challenges and an enhanced work ethic.

Sports can provide meaningful mentorship and peer relationships among both adults and youth that instill positive ethical values and behaviors. Positive values and attitudes that result in sportsmanship and integrity have been noted to decrease certain types of criminal behavior, the provision of a competitive environment operating as an alternative which has more rewarding capacities, leading to the development of autonomy in the relationship between participation and integrity.


Attitudes and factors which largely have a negative impact on sports integrity includes:

  1. Over-competitiveness and pushing oneself too hard towards winning. These have a negative impact on the development and maintenance of sports integrity.
  2. Gender discrimination harms the integrity of sports as it inherently supports the male chauvinistic logic.Sports has a highly gender sensitive environment and high-level elite sports rarely involve mixed gender play.  It purports that men and women are essentially unequal in status and potential in all fields. For example, the sport of tennis has recently come under the ire of human rights, feminist and women’s rights organizations as women players are rewarded and compensated half of what men get. Women are still objectified and largely discriminated on the basis of superficial qualities like physical appearance rather than the skills they possessThese situations rarely happen to sportsmen. It majorly affects a player’s confidence level, contributes to the erosion ofself-esteem and mentally exhausts them. It has leadcritics to speak about women as the weaker gender and how they have different endurance levels etc. Thus, gender discrimination is a real threat and has to be curtailed through spreading awareness and doing away with past prejudices.
  3. In this broad cultural and institutional context,aggressive behaviors and heterosexism or homophobia are some of the significant issues in sport impacting on integrity issues such as participation and accessibility.
  4. Research also points to a negative relationship between sports and alcoholism, which is found to have had a detrimental effect on ethical behavior of players, spectators and other sports stakeholders.
  5. Additionally, racist attitudes, behaviors and values were found to have a substantially negative effect on the development and maintenance of a sporting environment marked by integrity and ethical behavior. Incidents of discrimination and vilification across many sporting codes, involving a broad range of stakeholders, whether involved in professional, semi-professional, community or amateur sports are well known. Racism acts as a barrier to sports participation for indigenous persons and other culturally and linguistically-diverse people. Prejudice based on race was found to exist at both institutional and administrative levels, despite policies and initiatives designed to mitigate discriminatory attitudes and behaviors.
  6. Finally, a winning at all costs mentality was noted to have adverse effects on sporting integrity. However, this was found to be a dispersed attitude which depended more on attitudes and values held by coaches, players, parents, clubs and institutions on a case-by-case basis.This mentality, if allowed to continue, will lead to systematic erosion of whatever integrity is left in the sporting events of this millennium.

Indian Premier League (IPL) is a private T20 cricketing tournament which was inaugurated by Board of Cricket for Control in India (BCCI) in 2008. The introduction of the T20 format of cricket and the Indian Premier League in general has been criticized as it was felt that it would have a negative effect on the integrity and sanctity of the sport. Privatization of the sport, inclusion of cheer leaders, auction of players and teams being bought by private individuals all were features heavily condemned by orthodox and conservative thinkers. Since then, incidents of match-fixing, betting and prostitution at the IPL after match parties have been reported. All these incidents show that the integrity of the sport has been compromised. Bookkeepers, team owners and sponsors in order to gain, expressly or impliedly agree to using legally and ethically wrong means to win. This puts the athletes in a moral conundrum. Athletes, being human, often succumb to the pressures and indulge in legally/ethically wrong activities.

Lance Armstrong Controversy: former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong. Armstrong had won the Tour De France, a then record consecutive seven times between 1999 and 2005. He was then disqualified from those races and was given a lifetime ban from competitive cycling for doping offences by the United States Anti- Doping Agency (USADA) in 2012. In June 2012, USADA charged Armstrong with having used illicit performance enhancing drugs. The Union Cyclist International (UCI), the concerned governing body, announced its decision to accept USADA’s findings.Armstrong chose not to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) and in January 2013 admitted to doping in a television interview despite having denied it throughout his career. Through this case study, it is apparent that athletes can sometimes willingly or under extenuating circumstances do ethically and legally questionable acts in order to keep winning and remain the frontrunners in their field.


Both statute law and case laws have a bearing on how sports organizations and individuals participating in sports conduct themselves. Most sports organizations are incorporated under provincial or federal legislation pertaining to societies or corporations, and this legislation stipulates how the organization must conduct itself.The actions of sports organizations must meet the requirements of human rights legislation for equal access to facilities, programs and services without discrimination.

These organizations also have an obligation to meet the requirements of procedural fairness.In the ongoing matter of Dhanraj Pillai Vs. M/s Hockey India, conflict between the athletes and sports organizations is clearly seen. The case was filed under section 19 (1) (a) of The Competition Act, 2002 by the former Indian hockey team captain. It pertained to the events leading to the organization of World Series Hockey League by the Indian Hockey Federation. Imposition of restrictive conditions were made by Hockey India on players for participation in un-sanctioned prospective private professional leagues resulting in undue restrictions on mobility of players and on prospective private professional leagues leading to denial of entry to competing leagues.

Thus, sometimes the interests of the athletes and the organizations clash and they may unknowingly or misguidedly impose unreasonable restrictions or bans on players which would not always result in the promotion or development of hockey or other sports. The justification of such sports organizations for their acts is that they want to maintain the integrity of the sport and that their regulations are proper, transparent and legitimate. Here, maintaining the integrity becomes an excuse for the organizations to act in an arbitrary and unaccountable manner. This leads to athletes being frustrated and turning to private endorsements, deals and sponsors where they are not harassed or limited in their decisions all the time.


Ethically also athletes have some limits to adhere to. The responsibilities should not be taken lightly by the sportspersons as grey areas within the sporting community exist such as legal and infrastructural loopholes, which forcibly dilute the ethical limits and befoul the integrity of sports.

Athletes have to contribute to a safe environment for fellow athletes, coaches, officials, parents, administrators and support personnel that is free of discrimination, harassment and abuse. Emphasis should be put on treatment of all athletes and participants fairly, with respect and dignity regardless of gender, race, place of origin, athletic potential, colour, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs and socio‚Äźeconomic status.

They should also be able to accept victory and defeat with equal dignity and grace. They need to conduct themselves with integrity and honour both on and off the field. They should also maintain an uncompromising adherence to the sport’s standards, rules, regulations, codes and policies and encourage others to do likewise. They should not use their involvement with a sport, an association or an affiliated club to promote their own beliefs, behaviors or practices


In the modern-day scenario, the core question is whether sports integrity will survive or not. It is vulnerable to the relentless intrusion by a minority of individuals who promote or engage in the use of gambling or performance enhancing drugs (PED). Such individuals are challenging sports administrators to act in a forceful and meaningful way that has not been the hallmark of professional sport in these areas to date. Deliberately inept and unwilling administrators, not wishing to upset the status quo, allow gambling and drugs to thrive in their sports.

At the same time, the cases arising from gambling and drugs are revealing weaknesses in the dispute resolution system’s ability to cope with the legal cases coming forward for adjudication. The effect of inadequate pursuit of existing regulation and lack of administrative enforcement, combined with ineffective adjudication are leading to an erosion of sporting integrity.

The above forces are gnawing away at the public image and respect for sports. These are the greatest threats to the continuing commercial success of professional sports.The problems languish in the background and struggle to receive the attention and willingness of sports administrators to eradicate them.

Sports betting has a similar insidious effect on athletes and the integrity of sport and reflects an evolution akin to that for PED’s.Private-sector and government-run gambling websites send a message to the public at large that betting is acceptable. The growing legitimization of betting has resulted in corrupting athletes to increase profits. PED’s are used by athletes despite knowing that such substances are not only physically dangerous, but can also have a ripple effect on their lives and work. Different forces drive the athlete to be corrupt, but the effects are similar on the integrity of sport.

Thus, there is an increased need to regulate corruption, keep sporting events clean, restore and build public confidence in professional and elite sport. International sporting federations and government programs have taken some initiatives taken to preserve the role of Sports and its integrity:

  1. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA): It’s the leader of maintaining sporting fairness and has an annual ethical guideline published. It has begun a commendable job of regulating drug distribution. In WADA’s short history, the fashioning of a single international doping regime, that effectively harmonizes the rules of sporting federations to govern the use of PED’s, is a laser light beacon of significant accomplishment.
  2. Integrity Units of Sporting Associations: In the last five years, integrity units have been established in many professional sporting associations and, to a far lesser extent, in non-professional international sports federations, to investigate and eradicate corruption in sports. incidents suggest that sports and its integrity are under threat from illegal bookmaking. A number of responsible International Federations such as the International Cricket Council (ICC), the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are not sitting idly by and have created integrity units to deal with the attack to their sports from corrupt bookmakers. These incidents call for regulation by International Federations, games organizers, and governments who might move sports administration into the public domain of law enforcement.


There are certain challenges faced by regulatory authorities when administering these regimes. One reason these difficulties arise is that the regulatory agencies and participating sporting federations are non-governmental organizations that very jealously guard and control its affairs and activities. Such organizations lack the power to compel non-athletes to comply with the rules. They also have limited authority to collect information other than blood and urine samples from athletes during in-competition and out-of-competition testing.


Thus, to have an effective legal and administrative framework for the maintenance of Sports integrity, the private system needs significant assistance from the public authorities to pursue and stop activities of corrupt individuals.

The coming challenge is to knit the approach of both sets of authorities together without taking away the control of sports by sports officials and their accompanying federations.

Hence, athletes participating in professional sports do compete to win but shouldn’t feel obliged to break rules or their personal beliefs in order to accomplish the expectations of the spectators, coaches or the sponsors. This is because then they would be failing the society, the sport and its integrity and most of all themselves. They are only obliged to perform to their fullest potential and that too without any undue pressure. Integrity in today’s sports is in danger because the very meaning of winning has changed for the athletes and all others concerned. Integrity will only remain intact if the concept of winning remains the same. It should be about healthy competition and not make the athletes feel compelled to make obviously wrong decisions. After all, in the words of the famous football coach, Mr.Vince Lombardi, “If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?


  1. Heywood Broun.,, accessed September 10, 2013.
  2. Keating 2007; Bolter 2010; Butcher and Schneider 2003
  3. BBC news,”Lance Armstrong: Governing body strips American of Tour wins”. Accessed October 22, 2012.
  4. Shane Stokes , “Armstrong’s CAS inaction means he loses chance of appeal against doping sanctions”, Accessed (2012-12-29).
  5. Mediated Agreement Between David Morrison, the City of Coquitlam and the Deputy Chief Commissioner (1999),
  6. Sh. Dhanraj Pillay And Others vs M/S Hockey India (case No. 73 of 2011),
  7. Australian Sports Commission, Sport Ethics Unit,, Accessed on 10th September, 2005
  8. George J. Mitchell, report to the commissioner of baseball of an independent investigation into the illegal use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, [Mitchell Report], Accessed on 11–15-2007
  9. The Western Star, “See It’s Just Not Cricket: Sport of Gentlemen Rocked by Fixing Allegations”,, Accessed on Aug. 29, 2010
  10. Vince Lombardi.,, accessed September 10, 2013.