An investigation carried out by the BBC and Buzzfeed alleges the tennis authorities have consistently failed to act on warnings that a number of top-level players could have been involved in match-fixing.
What are the claims being made?
The allegations effectively come in two parts: firstly, that the tennis authorities failed to act on a dossier of suspicious matches which was presented to them by investigators in 2007, and that the subsequently-formed Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has remained similarly silent over information concerning a “core group” of 16 players — reported to include Grand Slam champions — alleged to have been repeat offenders over the past decade.
Who are the players involved?
Unsurprisingly, they have not been named.
However, Buzzfeed say the claims involve “winners of singles and doubles titles at Grand Slam tournaments”, and that one or more of those players is playing at this month’s Australian Open.
They have been flagged up over suspicious betting patterns, while Buzzfeed also says it has developed an algorithm which highlights matches whose results and/or accompanying betting patterns combine to produce an outcome of exceptionally low probability.
How have the authorities reacted?
They “absolutely deny” suppressing the findings of any match-fixing inquiry or allegation for any reason.
The sport’s authorities — principally the International Tennis Federation and the Association of Tennis Professionals — set up the TIU in 2008.
They say that TIU-led anti-corruption investigations have resulted in 18 successful disciplinary cases being brought forward since 2010.
Is match-fixing a problem?
It is commonly accepted that match-fixing does exist, although the problem appears more prevalent in the lower reaches of the game.
The most high-profile player found guilty of match-fixing was Austria’s Daniel Kollerer, a former top 25 player, who was given a lifetime ban in May 2011.
Serbia’s David Savic was banned in the same year and Russia’s Sergei Krotiouk — who never broke into the world’s top 400 — was also banned for life in 2013.
What have the players had to say?
Scotland’s Andy Murray offered his tacit approval to the report by retweeting it without comment within minutes of its emergence on social media late on Sunday night.
Serb Novak Djokovic said he felt “terrible” when he was offered money to fix a match in 2006 and denounced the practice as “a crime in sport”.
Switzerland’s Roger Federer said he would “love” for the names of those suspected to have been involved in match-fixing to be made public.
The authorities will await any further allegations from the BBC and Buzzfeed with interest.
While the TIU is bound to come under renewed scrutiny as a result, the robust statement issued on its behalf via the ITF on Monday suggests it remains confident that its anti-corruption methods have not been compromised.
With most of the players involved likely to have already retired — and, if they have committed any offences, to have done so under the old, pre-TIU system — major repercussions are likely to be kept to a minimum.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved