World tennis was rocked on Monday by allegations the game’s authorities have neglected to deal with widespread match fixing, just as the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, kicked off in Melbourne.
Tennis authorities rejected reports by the BBC and online BuzzFeed News, which said 16 players that have been ranked in the top 50 have been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) through suspicions they had thrown matches in the past decade.
The reports follow in the aftermath of corruption scandals in world soccer and athletics. The BBC and BuzzFeed News said the TIU, set up to police prohibited activities in tennis, either failed to act upon information that identified suspicious behaviour amongst players, or visit any sanctions.
Reuters was unable to independently confirm the findings by the BBC and BuzzFeed News, which said they had obtained records that contained the findings of an investigation create in 2007 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the governing body of men’s professional tennis.”The Tennis Integrity Unit and also the tennis authorities completely reject any proposition that signs of match fixing has been suppressed for almost any reason or isn’t being thoroughly investigated,” said ATP chairman Chris Kermode.”While the BBC and BuzzFeed reports mainly refer to events from about 10 years past, we will investigate any new information,” Kermode told a hastily arranged media seminar at Melbourne Park.
The BBC and BuzzFeed News said they had not named any players because without access to their own bank, telephone and computer records it was not possible to ascertain whether they took part in match-fixing.
They said the 2007 ATP inquest found gambling syndicates in Russia, northern Sicily and Italy making hundreds of thousands of pounds betting on games which researchers thought to be fixed.
Three of those games were at Wimbledon.
The inquiry team said 28 players involved in those games should be investigated but the findings were never followed up, the news organisations said.
Tennis authorities introduced a fresh anti-corruption code in 2009 but after taking legal advice were told previous corruption offences couldn’t be pursued, they included. The media reports created a stir in the Australian Open, with players expressing surprise in the allegations.”When I’m playing, I am only able to reply for me, I play very difficult, and every player I play seems to play hard,” women’s world number one Serena Williams told reporters.”If that’s going on, I don’t understand about it. You know, I’m kind of occasionally in a bit of a bubble.”Men’s world number seven Kei Nishikori of Japan included he’d not heard of any prevalence of match-fixing. Kermode included he was disappointed the story had taken focus away from the tournament.”we’re certain that the Tennis Integrity Unit is doing what it can and handles this problem very, very seriously,” Kermode said.TIU investigations had resulted in sanctions against 18 players, with six issued life bans, he added. Kermode also rejected suggestions the TIU was under-resourced and did not have enforcement powers that were necessary.
Tennis authorities have pumped about $14 million into anti-corruption programmes, Kermode added.
Willerton said they are able to ask for players’ electronic communication devices, though those requests might be rejected.”If they don’t then accept … that’s named non-alliance, and they can be reported and sanctioned for non-cooperation,” Willerton said. Independent Australian Senator Nick Xenophon said sports regulators are not rigorous enough.”The problem that we’ve in Australia and across the world is the fact that where you’ve ball-by-ball gaming, micro-gambling, it is an invitation for corruption and corrupt practices as it is very simple fix a certain micro-event within a game such as tennis,” Xenophon told reporters. Tennis officials have fought with a long-running conflict with match and also area where individual sets are thrown to manipulate live betting odds mending, which is.