First of all, it has to be made clear that all the components of the bridge community share the same worries: to ban cheating from our beloved sport must be the overall objective of the actions to be taken.
During the recent Chennai Championships, a great deal of time was spent in trying to define the right approach and strategy. In these discussions, we were most fortunate to be able to rely on the input of the members of the High Level Players Commission (HLPC). They have agreed to play an active role in our quest against cheating. Together, with them, a path forward was clearly defined and will be acted upon.
The HLPC will be supported by a panel of expert volunteers to work on suspicions of cheating. At the same time we will build a dedicated, secure web site, able to receive any complaints concerning unethical behavior, which will be treated immediately and confidentially. In this way it’s possible to build an archive of instances of such behaviour and when the people in charge (HLPC and Experts) are of the opinion that it deserves further investigation, they will pursue the matter, eventually passing it to the appropriate body, either the WBF Disciplinary body and/or the appropriate Zonal Organization or NBO to instigate disciplinary procedures, also making use of documents or data coming from previous events.
At the same time we will increase the use of any technical methods available, and utilize them against any cheating threat. As we have done since Bali 2013, we will broadcast on line the matches through the WBF Web, Facebook and other sites not only to discover and eliminate the cheaters, but mainly to provide a real show, broadcast and designed to be enjoyed by many admirers and kibitzers, not something that will shock people.
Personally I think that the work done by many dedicated people over the past two months is outstanding and great for bridge and I hope to continue to have their cooperation for the future. Nevertheless I am strongly convinced that we need to apply our laws and procedures: to be able to issue a correct and incontrovertible verdict, having a fair trial, free from faults, giving the opportunity to the accusers to prove in the appropriate way their accusations and to those accused the opportunity to defend themselves, without bias on either side, and safeguarding the rights of both parties.
At the level of the principles, starting from the existing WBF rules & regulations, that condemn firmly any practice of cheating, the WBF Disciplinary Code has been updated, ensuring also that it is compliant with the IOC rules. This new Code takes effect from 1st January 2016. Further updates will take place, as we will make every attempt to make changes that will best serve bridge.
For both legal (anti-trust legislation) and practical reasons, the WBF is unable to police the entire world of bridge. As a general principle it has been decided that infractions have to be judged at the appropriate geographical level (i.e. the Zones or the NBOs). What, however, we can do and have done is to issue Guidelines according to which serious infractions have to be dealt with. These guidelines seek to achieve harmony in the approach and equality of treatment in all cases. We also wish to work closely with the Zonal Organizations and the NBOs in sharing resources and ideas
It is clear that, when unethical behaviour is suspected during WBF sanctioned competitions, it will be dealt with in the appropriate way by the WBF, expecting the same attitude and line of conduct in all other Zonal and/or NBO sanctioned organizations. We expect a complete exchange of information and communication between all the organizations whether they are national, zonal or world.
At the present time, all the cases of accusation of cheating are under disciplinary proceedings in the EBL, in the ACBL and in the associated NBOs being in their competence, and will have the related verdicts.
In my letter of 19th October to the Zonal Conferences and NBOs I tried to explain what we did and are doing but, once again, for avoidance of doubt, let me repeat and underline that the WBF has the firm intention to further combat malpractices in the sport it governs, providing the other governing bodies with the right tools. This approach and strategy constitutes, in my mind, the best way to attain our common objective: removing cheaters from the bridge table.
Thanking you for your understanding, support and cooperation,
5th November 2015