Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) President Brian Lewis has urged organisations to adopt the Sport Integrity Global Alliance’s (SIGA’s) universal standards before they criticise other bodies.
Lewis, also President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), was attending the first edition of SIGA’s Sport Integrity Forum here which featured three panel discussions dedicated to the integrity of sport.
He was speaking before the CANOC Extraordinary General Assembly in Barranquilla, Colombia, on Thursday (February 2), where he will seek election as the organisation’s head.
Lewis was unanimously elected on an interim basis to replace Barbados' Steve Stoute at an Annual General Meeting in Guadeloupe in October and made his intentions clear to run for the job on a permanent basis.
insidethegames exclusively revealed today that the Dominican Republic's José Joaquín Puello has launched a surprise bid for the role, with the official also seeking the Presidency of the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) in April.
The CANOC adopted adopted SIGA’s universal standards under the leadership of Steve Stoute, with the standards designed to uphold and implement the highest standards of good governance, financial integrity and sports betting integrity.
Under Lewis' interim leadership of CANOC, which represents 26 organisations that includes 20 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), is also set to work with SIGA to provide training, education and capacity building for all its NOCs to share best practice.
Reflecting on the drive to improve governance in the Caribbean, Lewis urged organisations not to point fingers and urged SIGA to act as a bridge-builder between sporting bodies.
"I am immensely proud to be representing CANOC with my colleague Keith Joseph [CANOC General Secretary]," Lewis said here today.
"Sometimes the Caribbean is taken for granted in global discussions, while people often feed and generate profit through our talents.
"History is a powerful teacher and we should be aware that sport cannot exist in a vacuum.
"SIGA must not be an ideological platform to bring through people’s own ideas, but instead it needs to help share thoughts and act as a bridge builder.
"We need to appreciate different economic realities, as some integrity issues such as sports betting might be due to a person’s need to feed a hungry child.
"We should not point fingers and while it is a time for action, we must be mindful that SIGA remains a bridge builder."
Lewis’ rousing speech was one of the concluding remarks of the first edition of the Forum, with SIGA stating future editions are planned.
The Forum took place before the organisation - which seeks to foster greater integrity throughout sport by bringing together key stakeholders - holds their General Assembly tomorrow.
The opening panel of the day, which came after a keynote speech by European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen, focused on attempts to improve governance in sport.
It was followed by a panel discussion, featuring insidethegames editor Duncan Mackay and head of Dow Jones Sport Simon Greenberg, which examined financial integrity in sport.
This included concerns over the transparency of finances of International Federations, as well as the lack of disclosure of the earnings of organisation’s key officials.
The final panel session examined concerns over the global challenges and solutions of promoting sports betting integrity.
A key concern raised was the lack of education programmes available for athletes at the grassroots and development phases of sports, as well as the lack of universal approach to concerns by nations.
“The first ever SIGA Sport Integrity Forum has been a great success and a significant step forward, we enjoyed three panels of very high quality with excellent interventions from the audience," said the SIGA Council afterwards.
"But this Forum would not have been such a success without the contribution and efforts of everyone involved. SIGA as an organisation is completely reliant on the expertise and contribution of its members.
"We are built on the principles of collaboration and partnership as we recognise that real change is only possible if we work together.
“The panel discussions today highlighted the scale of the work that is ahead of us but they also reinforced the need for an organisation like SIGA to act as a bridge and bring together like-minded organisations from across the sports industry. SIGA is here to stay and we are committed to bringing about real change.
"Today we have shown that we can talk the talk but now we must walk the talk.”