|Organisers of the French Open tennis tournament have filed lawsuits with courts in Belgium and France in a bid to ban online gambling companies from offering bets on the event.|
The French Tennis Federation is suing three online gambling companies, Betfair, Bwin and Ladbrokes, in hopes that courts in Paris and Liege will serve injunctions stopping them from taking bets on the event. The lawsuits also seek punitive fines for each day of any violations amid claims that online betting companies could stain the reputation of the clay-court championships at Roland Garros.
The issue came to the fore in August after online betting exchange Betfair voided wagers on a match in Poland between fifth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko and 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello due to irregular betting patterns.
'There is urgency to act because sporting ethic is at risk,' said Jean-Francois Vilotte, Director General for the French Tennis Federation.
'It is an issue as important as the fight against doping.'
The Federation’s lawyer, Jean-Louis Dupont, said that the case was built on two tenets, that betting companies are tainting the reputation of the French Open and unfairly using the tournament as a way of making money. He also stated that betting companies dodge fallout when there is suspicion of match fixing.
'They purely scrap the bets on the event in question and by doing that generate a scandal that the organisation and players have to deal with,” said Dupont.
“It can give them a lifelong ugly reputation.'
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) investigated Davydenko and his wife but no findings have yet been announced but several players have since come forward to say that they have been approached with offers to fix matches. Late last year, three Italian professional players were suspended for betting on tennis matches involving other players.