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Match-fixing not covered up, say tennis authorities

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Tennis governing bodies and the sport’s integrity unit have united to slam allegations that evidence of match-fixing had been covered up.

Earlier today (18 January), the BBC and BuzzFeed published a report which appeared to query the “zero tolerance” approach claimed by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), alleging that 16 players who had been in the world top-50 over the past decade had been flagged as suspicious but were allowed to continue competing.

Grand Slam winners were among those named in documents obtained by the broadcaster. It also suggested that match-fixing may have been prevalent at flagship tournament Wimbledon.

However, the TUI and four governing bodies – Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Grand Slam Board and International Tennis Federation (ITF) – railed against suggestions that information was suppressed.

ATP executive chair, Chris Kermode, said that “no player is immune from investigation, regardless of their status and position”, and all players, support staff and officials were “subject to the terms” of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP).

“No player or official is ever cleared by the TIU of potential involvement in corruption,” he added. “By its very nature, corruption is difficult to prove, so while the process can often be lengthy, the TIU will continue to pursue evidence where it believes it is warranted.”

The BBC reported added that documents from 2008 revealed betting syndicates in Russia, northern Italy and Sicily were making “hundreds of thousands of pounds” gambling on matches thought to have been fixed. The report said 28 players involved in the matches should have been investigated but “the findings were never followed up”.

A new anti-corruption code was established in 2009, so the alleged 2008 corruption offences “could not be pursued”.

In a statement made following the report, the tennis authorities highlighted that it suspended Daniel Koellerer for five years and fined him US$25,000 (£17,485, €22,936) as evidence of its “zero tolerance” policy. It also revealed that since 2010 it had banned five players and one official for life.

“There are nearly 21,000 active professional players and over 2,100 official, playing and officiating in over 1,500 tournaments in 80 countries around the world. The vast majority of these individuals are good people of high integrity,” said Kermode.

“Unfortunately, there is always a minority who seek personal gain from corrupt activity. Those individuals will continue to be subject to investigation by the TIU and disciplinary sanctions which include lifetime bans and punitive financial penalties.”

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Tennis governing bodies and the sport’s integrity unit have united to slam allegations that evidence of match-fixing had been covered up.
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ATP chief Kermode said 'no player was immune' from investigation / Lucky Business/Shutterstock.com
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