The Integrity Unit - "I have my eyes on you!"

18:24:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

What are you doing there sport?
At the beginning of this month, John Higgins and Pat Mooney found out their future in snooker. For one of them the punishment was a six months ban and a serious amount of money to be paid, but for the other one it meant the end of his involvement in the snooker business. At that moment, Barry Hearn, the World Snooker chairman released the news of an Integrity Unit to be put together and launched in no time for a safer snooker.
And where you can do such a launch if not at the World Open tournament, where the eyes of the whole world are focused on. :P So, yesterday "The three Musketeers" (Lord John Stevens, Barry Hearn, David Douglas) were present in Glasgow for a press release, announcing that the Integrity Unit is a touching reality.

The Captain Jean Luc Picard (aka Barry Hearn) brought Lord John Stevens on the team since he is the chairman of Quest Company, a company with has the best leading experts on tackling corruption in sport. He was also in charge of the inquiry in the death case of Diana Princes of Wales and Dody Fayed and he is a former Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Lord John Stevens, Barry Hearn and David Douglas
"Integrity is non-negotiable. Sport will only move forward if we show to the world that we are fully committed to clean and fair sport at all levels. Independent Integrity Units are a best practice model which has already been implemented by other international sports."
"Integrity is about fair play right across sport, not just about competitors and officials. It as much about protecting the innocent as it is about trying to prevent and identify irregular practices. All of us involved in sport have a duty to ensure that our sports are clean. Otherwise, the sports we love are under threat.", declared Lord Stevens.

But it seems that this project was growing inside Hearn’s mind long before the "Higgins" scandal blew up. The main reason for bringing the former Detective Chief Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police, David Douglas on the team, being the fact that Barry Hearn had an idea of protecting snooker.

"Snooker is a sport associated with honesty and sportsmanship, we've all seen countless occasions where players have owned up to fouls not spotted by the referee.
We must stop the problems at the root and provide a massive deterrent, therefore it is our intention to give life bans to players found in breach of the most serious rules.", said the Captain of the World Snooker Enterprise ship :P

But what is this Integrity Unit all about? Well, it has three key strands: Intelligence, Prevention and Investigation.

Information = Power
The WPBSA should be able to receive information through many channels to be held and analysed centrally. Certain types of intelligence may be highly sensitive and the WPBSA must have a robust system to protect confidential sources. A full information security plan must be in place to ensure that any data received by the WPBSA is stored securely.

Stop the irregularities!

This sector will touch on one hand: education and publicity and on the other one: ongoing analysis of intelligence and strategic assessments to continue to identify best practice and methods of prevention for the WPBSA.

The WPBSA will provide an investigative capacity in order that intelligence can be acted upon efficiently, proportionately and appropriately to focus on proving or disproving any information or allegation indicating malpractice.

On corruption`s tracks
I can only salute Hearn’s idea for it is a very good and responsible one and I’m sure it will help a lot the sport. However, in the end the honesty depends on each player. You can have a whole series of extraordinary players on your team, but you can’t guarantee what’s going on in their minds or how they are going to act in certain situations. Some of them will resist de temptation, some of them may not. Some of them are honest people who just want to play genuine snooker, some of them may not be.
My only hope is that what happened with John Higgins will not happen again. His reputation is tarnished, like Hearn said but snooker had to deal with a tarnished reputation too. I’m sure many suspicious eyebrows are still up and they will not get low for some time now. But in the end, I know true snooker will regain its position and win the victory against corruption. Call me an optimistic, but I believe in this sport! :)