|An independent panel has thrown suspicion on the results of 45 professsional tennis matches over the last five years and stated that the sport is ‘at a crossroads’.|
Consisting of representatives from the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour and the four grand slams, the body concluded that the matches required further review because of suspicious betting patterns.
The 66-page report found that while ‘professional tennis is neither institutionally nor systematically corrupt, it is potentially at a crossroads’. The body examined 73 matches over the past five years and stated that 45 remain under suspicion ‘from a betting perspective’ without going into further detail.
'That said, we have found no evidence of any Mafia involvement in corrupting the integrity of tennis,' read the review.
'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 report also made 15 recommendations that the sport's four governing bodies have accepted. These include ‘any player caught cheating should be punished by a lengthy suspension for a first offence and, if the circumstances merit it, a life ban’. The bodies also agreed to have a uniform anti-corruption programme and an integrity unit.
The report also examined the practice of ‘tanking’, which it defined as ‘a player not giving ‘best efforts’ in a match’ and, while making no specific recommendations, did ‘urge officials to be alert to such activity and to deal with it as a break of the rules whenever such behaviour can be proved’.
Another of the recommendations will mean only players and essential tournament personnel are to have access the changing rooms at tournaments in order to prevent insider knowledge such as a player's fitness being passed on to punters.