News / Asia

    Reports Allege Tennis Match Fixing, ATP Denies Claims

    A first-round match is played at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 18, 2016. World tennis was rocked Monday by allegations that the game's authorities have failed to deal with widespread match-fixing.
    A first-round match is played at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 18, 2016. World tennis was rocked Monday by allegations that the game's authorities have failed to deal with widespread match-fixing.
    VOA News

    Tennis players began play Monday at the Australian Open as two news organizations reported allegations of match-fixing based on leaked documents they received.

    The BBC and Buzzfeed said that during the past decade the sport's Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) was repeatedly warned about the potential throwing of matches by 10 players ranked in the top 50, but that none ever faced punishment.

    Chris Kermode, the president of the Association of Tennis Professionals, said the TIU has not found any evidence to back up the allegations and does not rely on suspicion or hearsay.

    "The Tennis Integrity Unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason or isn't being thoroughly investigated," Kermode said.

    Suspected players

    According to the BBC and Buzzfeed, eight of the suspected players were in this year's Australian Open draw. The reports said a 2007 probe by the ATP found that betting rings in Russia and Italy made hundreds of thousands of dollars betting on matches that investigators believed to be fixed.

    Tennis officials launched the integrity effort after a 2007 match involving Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello.  A British bookmaker received an unusual amount of wagers on the match, most of them for Arguello. Davydenko withdrew in the third set despite leading, and the bookmaker cancelled all of the bets.

    Both players were later cleared of any wrongdoing.

    Kermode that since the TIU was set up in 2008, it has sanctioned 18 players, including handing out life bans to six of them.

    No room for corruption

    Novak Djokovic, the world's top-ranked men's tennis player, said Monday that in 2007 people who worked with him were approached with a proposal for him to fix a match, which he did not.

    Djokovic said there is no room for corruption in the sport, and that until there is evidence involving active players, then reports are only speculation.

    "For me, that's an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport, honestly. I don't support it. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis," he said.

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