The government should look at establishing a National Integrity Framework for Sports to create higher levels of integrity among athletes and sports associations in Malaysia, according to Balbeer Singh Jessy, the newly elected Deputy President of the Sports Law Association of Malaysia (SLAM).
“Such a framework should set out rules that all members of a sport need to follow when it comes to their behaviour and conduct in sport, which includes anti-doping, corruption, match fixing and cheating among others,” said Balbeer.
“Basically, Sport Integrity is a manifestation of the ethics and values that promote confidence in sports, including positive conduct by its members and community. It covers all stakeholders, including athletes, coaches, sponsors, administrators, state and national associations”, he said.
Balbeer, former Head of Legal and Secretarial of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), was returned unopposed as Deputy President in its annual general meeting held on 23 March 2023.
“There is a need for such a framework that can be adopted by all state and national associations. This has already been done in Australia where 81 associations have adopted their National Sport Integrity Framework, which was launched in March 2021,” he said, adding that there was a need to safeguard and regulate the sport system to promote confidence and trust at all levels.
An Advocate and Solicitor based in Johor Bahru, Balbeer said in the last five years, sport integrity units have been established in many international professional sporting associations to investigate and eradicate corruption and other threats.
“New Zealand, Japan and Canada have started giving emphasis to sport integrity. Malaysia should also do the same, looking at the number of doping, illegal betting and match fixing cases we have had in the past.
“Integrity in sport is a vital element that must be addressed by all sports associations and regulators to ensure match fixing and corruption in sport are minimised, if not completely eradicated,” added Balbeer.
In addition to the above, sexual, race, colour discrimination and doping are other negative factors that can lead to damage the reputation of a sports association and result in a loss of public confidence if not addressed.
Several International Federations such as the International Cricket Council (ICC), the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA), and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have already created integrity units to deal with corruption in their respective games.
Therefore, it is vital that all Malaysian sport associations take similar steps by setting up integrity units to ensure Integrity in Sport is always a top priority.
“This is where SLAM is willing to assist legislators, administrators and associations to inculcate sound integrity values among players, officials and stakeholders to maintain a high standard of Sport Integrity in Malaysia,” said Balbeer.
He noted that the awareness of sports law in Malaysia is still low. Many players and associations do not realise that sports law has its own jurisprudence, rules and regulations and its own conventions.
SLAM organises its own annual Sports Law Conference together with a series of seminars and trainings annually. Speakers from all over Malaysia and the world are invited. It is currently affiliated with the Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Association (ANZSLA).