Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Tennis Integrity Calls on Players

The Tennis Integrity Unit has called for any players who have concerns over possible match-fixing to come forward, reaffirming there is no evidence of anyone suppressing reports.

An investigation carried out by the BBC and BuzzFeed alleges that over the last decade a core group of 16 players have been brought to the attention of the sport’s governing bodies over suspicions they have fixed matches.

The report claims all of the 16 players have ranked in the world’s top 50 at some point and that more than half of them were playing in the Australian Open first round, which started on Monday.

Following the broadcast of the File on 4 programme ‘Tennis: Game, Set and Fix?’ on BBC Radio Four during Tuesday evening, BBC Sport later published a fresh claim from an unnamed South American tennis player in an interview with the BBC’s World Have Your Say team which detailed how matches are said to be rigged and how criminals try to avoid detection.

The male player, who requested anonymity, alleged the issues were “like a secret on the tour that everybody knows but we don’t talk about it. You know who is doing it and who is not ... We just see it and keep working.”

However, claims that the sports authorities “don’t want it to be stopped” were rejected by the TIU, which was set up in 2008.

“The TIU and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason. The sport has a zero-tolerance approach which is enforced with the full powers of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program, which includes lifetime bans and punitive financial penalties,” the organisation said in a statement.

“Since 2009 all professional players, support staff and officials have been subject to this stringent code, which makes it compulsory to report any corrupt approaches or knowledge of suspected corrupt practices to the TIU. Failure to do so is a breach of the Program which can be subject to disciplinary action.

“The TIU works closely with players to prevent corruption through education programmes and confidential reporting systems. The great majority of the 21,000 active professional players are good people of high integrity who abhor the suggestion that the sport they love is tainted with allegations of corruption.

“We invite the player behind the allegations to make contact with the TIU and to share the information he claims to have.”

It is alleged that in 2007 tennis authorities were presented with an examination of 26,000 matches, three of them at Wimbledon, which contained enough evidence to root out offenders – but no action was taken.

The BBC, meanwhile, had said the group of 16 players also included “winners of grand slam titles” but neither organisation named players, insisting it is not possible to determine whether they were personally taking part in match-fixing.

The current world No1, Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, branded match-fixing as a “crime in sport” and confirmed he was offered £110,000 in 2006 to lose a first-round match in St Petersburg.

The seven-times Wimbledon champion Roger Federer says he will believe accusations of widespread match-fixing only when the perpetrators are named. Federer answered several questions on the controversy after his first-round win over Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Australian Open on Monday but grew irritated when asked about the potential involvement of major champions.

“I would love to hear names,” the Swiss said. “Then at least it’s concrete stuff and you can actually debate about it. Was it the player? Was it the support team? Who was it? Was it before? Was it a doubles player, a singles player? Which slam? It’s so all over the place. It’s nonsense to answer something that is pure speculation.”

Andy Murray wants more “proactive” movement from the authorities. He said: “As a player, you just want to be made aware of everything that’s going on. I think we deserve to know everything that’s out there.”

No comments: