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Untangling the Rash of Cheating Scandals in Niche Sports

Brian Socolow, co-chair of Loeb & Loeb’s Sports practice, was quoted in a Law360 article discussing cheating allegations surrounding niche sports and competitors, which have resulted in a range of consequences from investigations led by Big Law to criminal indictments.

According to the article, attorneys find vulnerability in sports like chess, poker, sport fishing and even competitive Irish dancing because they offer lucrative awards without the public attention that would normally follow mainstream athletic competitions.  "Where there is some potential to win money, there is at least potentially some opportunity for corruption or cheating," Brian said. He went on to add, "In some cases you see just how ethics factors into sports just like anything else in society."

Brian explained that the forward-facing nature of the sports industry puts attorneys looking into cheating allegations on high alert. "You expect that in some sense your findings are going to be made public, and you have to be aware that what you put in a report could be made public, and you have to be prepared for that," Brian told the publication. "But you also want to avoid valid criticisms that you haven't done enough of an inquiry to really understand the situation and try to get to the bottom of it. You don't want to be seen as doing an investigation that is just for appearances."

Niche sports in particular have a vested interest in making sure that the games are clean because the legitimacy of the sport is important for attracting more fans and expanding the game. "For these niche sports, the biggest thing that they're concerned about is authenticity, and part of authenticity is if they're going to have a competition, it's got to be open and transparent and fair," Brian added. "You have to have a constitution, bylaws, a commissioner. It's going to provide certainty to all the people who are competitors in your sport and all the people who are interested in your sport. Without that, you're just a sideshow."

Click here to read the full article on Law360’s website (subscription required).