Tennis match-fixing under the spotlight

Representatives from the world’s major professional tennis associations will meet in London on Friday to discuss the formation of an “integrity unit” designed to keep the sport free of match-fixing.

The meeting, which will include the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the International Tennis Federation and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), comes three days after 18th-ranked Andy Murray became the latest player to speak out about corruption in the sport.

“It will be to discuss the next steps needed in order to ensure a tennis-wide integrity unit is created as quickly as possible, but also that it can be as effective as possible across the sport,” ATP spokesperson Kris Dent said Wednesday.

Murray said on Tuesday it was difficult to prove if someone was throwing a match, but he added “everyone knows it goes on”.

That prompted the ATP to ask for an immediate meeting.

“We have asked, via his agent, to meet with him at the earliest possible moment, which in most probability will be early next week” at the Madrid Masters, Dent said.

Suspicions about match-fixing began about two months ago after an online betting site, in an unprecedented move, voided bets on a match in August between fourth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko and 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello in Poland because of irregular betting patterns.

Davydenko withdrew from the match in the third set because of a foot injury, and the ATP is looking into it.

“The investigation is ongoing and making good progress, although the comprehensive nature of it means we are looking at a bit of time yet before a conclusion is reached,” Dent said.

Murray’s comments also revived earlier talks about a rule requiring players to tell the ATP within two days of any information they may have regarding match-fixing.

“The rule ... will make it a sanctionable offence for any player who is approached not to pass the information on within 48 hours to the relevant authorities,” Dent said.
“We are very concerned by reports that players and other people involved in the sport have potentially important information that is not being passed to us.”

The rule is set to be formally approved at the next ATP board meeting in November during the Masters Cup in Shanghai, Dent said.

Since the Davydenko match, other players have said they have been approached by outsiders trying to influence a match. Last month, Gilles Elseneer of Belgium said he was offered—and turned down—more than $100 000 to lose a first-round match against Potito Starace of Italy at Wimbledon in 2005.

On the women’s tour, a match in September drew suspicion for unusual betting patterns.

An online betting site briefly delayed payment after 120th-ranked Mariya Koryttseva beat number 96 Tatiana Poutchek in the quarterfinals of a tournament in India. Eventually, bets were paid out, and both the WTA and the betting site said they doubt there was any wrongdoing connected to the match.—Sapa-AP

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