The world of professional surfing has today been shaken to its very core, following reports that several high-profile surfers may be guilty of numerous “match fixing” offences committed during the last four years.
An investigation coordinated by the International Gambling Standards Authority (IGSA), and aided by the efforts of the Australian Crime Commission, Europol and the FBI, has uncovered substantial evidence of widespread corruption within the sport, IGSA sources say. A number of surfers and two judges have been implicated in a series of suspected “match fixing” incidents, thought to have been orchestrated by Asian crime syndicates with the help of industry insiders.
“Our suspicions were aroused in early 2014, when irregular betting trends in China were brought to our attention,” said IGSA spokesman Norman Bellingdon. “Further inspection of bets placed on professional surfing, and a comparison with results on both the World Qualifying Series and World Championship Tour, revealed a disquieting pattern stretching back to mid-2010. At the present time, up to eight professional surfers — three of whom are either competing or have at some point in the recent past competed on the WCT — are under investigation, in addition to two judges.”
Fifty seven heats in total have so far been identified by law enforcement agencies as potentially affected. Much of the evidence is circumstantial — unusually large or multiple bets on seemingly unlikely occurrences which subsequently prove to transpire — but IGSA claim that in some cases documents have been obtained proving that money changed hands. Most of the bets in question are related to heat totals, individual wave scores or interferences.
IGSA are unwilling at this stage to disclose the identities of those athletes and officials they believe to be involved. Mr Bellingdon declined to comment on rumours that a $10,000 bet placed on a competitor surfing into a rock at the recent Gold Coast Quik Pro, at odds of 200-1, was being treated as suspicious.
In related news, the WSL are following up complaints made by several members of the world tour who believe that divine intervention confers an unfair advantage on its beneficiaries. Speaking after his maiden world tour victory at the Quik Pro earlier this year, Filipe Toledo not only announced his world title ambitions but also admitted that “God helped me the whole event.” Some of his fellow competitors considered this tantamount to a confession of cheating. Toledo later expanded on how this help manifests itself in an interview with Tracks, saying that He “helps me to keep on my board”.
“I’m not entirely happy about the situation, if I’m gonna be honest,” said Taj Burrow, who has twice finished runner-up on the world tour. “I’ve been waiting my whole career to win a world title, and now this 19-year old comes along who never falls off because the supreme celestial being’s keeping him upright. I can’t compete with that. Last year it was Medina, now it’s Toledo, and I’m just not sure it’s really in keeping with the spirit of the sport. I mean, He even gave CJ Hobgood a world title for fuck’s sake.”
World Tour Commissioner Kieren Perrow stressed that the WSL was working hard to find some sort of solution to the problem: “We’ve looked at this issue closely, and of course we understand the grievances of the other surfers. I can assure you we’re doing everything we can to keep Him from interfering, although I won’t pretend it’s proving easy. The worst thing is He keeps sending us these tiny shit little swells specifically for Filipe, which is doing our viewing figures no favours at all. This could finish the WSL.”