The WBF wishes to express its commitment to ensure that the sport of bridge is conducted in a fair manner with respect to all those involved within it. The WBF is recognised by the IOC as an International Sport Federation and is expected to uphold the highest standards of sport. It must administer the sport within recognised norms and strive to uphold the ideals of the Olympic Charter.
At the Sport Accord Convention in Sochi in April of this year, International Sport Federations were asked to adopt a declaration supporting Integrity in Sport. The WBF Executive Council has unanimously agreed to do so and the Declaration can be found on its website.
The WBF is under a duty to have in place appropriate rules and regulations for the orderly conduct of its affairs and the organisation of the sport. As a continuing part of that process, the WBF has been updating its Disciplinary Code; the latest approved version will have effect from 1st January 2016. In addition the WBF has issued guidance to all Zonal Authorities and National Bridge Organisations for the sanctions to be imposed for those who cheat.
The WBF wishes to make it abundantly clear that it will not allow cheating within the sport of bridge. Those who decide that they wish to obtain an unfair advantage by cheating should be aware that they will be pursued without exception; if found to have cheated they will be subject to severe sanctions that will result in them not being a part of bridge for a very long time.
However, the WBF does not approve of the current lynch mob mentality and approach that is being utilised by a small number of people. Regardless of any potential culpability, it is a requirement in any civilised society that those accused of any wrong doing are given details of what is alleged, the evidence that is said to support such allegations, and the opportunity to answer those matters. The WBF is aware that some players have been threatened with public exposure if they do not immediately agree with the direction of those who accuse them. It should be stressed that the people offering such “deals” have no legitimacy – they are without any legal standing in respect of the organisation of the sport of bridge.
At present the WBF is aware of investigations being undertaken by Zonal Authorities and NBOs. In some cases there are multiple investigations being carried out against the same pair. The WBF does not wish to expand the direct examinations into these matters ahead of any determinations. If the way in which these matters have unfolded results in false accusations having been made, those responsible for doing so may find themselves subject to investigation.
The WBF will continue in its efforts and honour its obligations to act in a responsible manner as an International Sport Federation. The concept of Integrity in Sport includes fair play and the elimination of cheating but not to the exclusion of proper processes and people’s basic rights. The WBF acknowledges the significant time and effort contributed by players, workers and officers in their devotion to identify those who may have acted improperly. That work may be the basis for disciplinary proceedings undertaken within a proper process and presented to, and considered and determined by, a competent tribunal. The WBF will not tolerate cheating, neither will it stand by and watch kangaroo courts claim some legitimacy when they have none.
David R Harris
World Bridge Federation