Online betting was just one of the factors considered last week in the release of a report by an independent panel following an investigation into 73 professional tennis matches over the past five years. The panel found that there was a need for further probing into suspicious betting patterns at 45 of the matches during the period. The suspicious matches were not detailed.
The International Tennis Federation, the ATP, the WTA Tour and the four grand slams published the findings in a 66-page report which commented that while "….professional tennis is neither institutionally nor systematically corrupt, it is potentially at a crossroads".
The report underlined that the panel had found no evidence to support the theory that the Mafia may have been involved in corruption attempts, although it went on to state: "We do not doubt that criminal elements may be involved in seeking to subvert or corrupt some players-officials and that they may even involve organised criminal gangs."
The betting company Betfair played a role in uncovering at least some questionable practices when it voided all bets on a match involving Nikolay Davydenko last year (see previous InfoPowa reports) on grounds of suspicious gambling patterns. The incident attracted extensive media coverage, and subsequently other tennis professionals came forward with reports of outside approaches seeking to influence major games for rewards as high as $100 000.
Five Italian players have since been fined or suspended for betting on tennis.
The independent panel's report comes just before the start of the French Open, which was the subject of a court action in February this year when tournament organisers litigated in a Belgian court to ban online gambling companies from offering bets on the event….and lost.
Also included in the panel's report was a recommendation that the four governing bodies in tennis accepted that they take a serious view of players found to be cheating, including the imposition of tough punitive measures that could include banning for life. A common anti-corruption and integrity system was also agreed. Access to tournament locker rooms was highlighted as an area for reform with the recommendation that this be restricted to players and essential tournament personnel.
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