Last week South African cricket was under the radar, former Proteas player Gulam Bodi eventually revealed to be the player at the centre of the Ram Slam T20 match-fixing saga.
Well that’s just a drop in the ocean when compared to the allegations sweeping the tennis world, some of the world’s top players (including Grand Slam winners) involved in match-fixing so prevalent it even affected Wimbledon.
Over to the BBC who broke the story along with Buzzfeed News:
Over the last decade 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 have been repeatedly flagged to the tennis integrity unit over suspicions they have thrown matches.
All of the players, including winners of Grand Slam titles, were allowed to continue competing…
The documents we [BBC] have obtained show the enquiry found betting syndicates in Russia, northern Italy and Sicily making hundreds of thousands of pounds betting on games investigators thought to be fixed. Three of these games were at Wimbledon.
In a confidential report for the tennis authorities in 2008, the enquiry team said 28 players involved in these games should be investigated but the findings were never followed up. Tennis introduced a new anti-corruption code in 2009 but after taking legal advice were told previous corruption offences could not be pursued.
“As a result no new investigations into any of the players who were mentioned in the 2008 report were opened,” a TIU spokesman said.
In subsequent years there were repeated alerts sent to the TIU about a third of these players. None of them was disciplined by the TIU.
Grand Slam winners from the past decade or so? Well let’s have a look then, with the first graph below showing Australian Open winners on the left and French open winners on the right. The numbers in the brackets indicate which number career Grand Slam title the win represented:
Then we’ll look at Wimbledon (left) and US Open (right) for the same years as above:
Not all that many names now is it? Let the guessing games begin…
Such was the level of secrecy that it took whistle blowers from inside the sport to eventually make the news public. Mark Phillips, one of the betting investigators in the 2007 enquiry, with the extent of the fixing they found:
“There was a core of about 10 players who we believed were the most common perpetrators that were at the root of the problem.”
He has never spoken publicly before about the material he gathered, which he said was as powerful as any he had seen in over 20 years as a betting investigator.
“The evidence was really strong. There appeared to be a really good chance to nip it in the bud and get a strong deterrent out there to root out the main bad apples.”
So where exactly does this leave investigations at present, and when will we find out the names of those involved?
The BBC and Buzzfeed News have decided not to name the players because without access to their phone, bank and computer records it is not possible to determine whether they may have been personally taking part in match fixing.
However tennis’s integrity unit does have the power to demand all this evidence from any professional tennis player.
“There is an element of actually keeping things under wraps,” said Benn Gunn, a former police chief constable who conducted a major review of betting in tennis that led to the creation of the Tennis Integrity Unit.
Tennis fans will note that the Australian Open began this morning so here’s some food for thought – EIGHT of the players repeatedly flagged to the TIU (Tennis Integrity Unit) over the past decade will play in the tournament.
Here’s the Daily Mail with more inside info:
It was claimed that the investigation revealed:
- Winners of singles and doubles titles at Grand Slam tournaments are among the core group of 16 players who have repeatedly been reported for losing games when highly suspicious bets have been placed against them.
- One top-50 player competing in the Australian Open this week is suspected of repeatedly fixing his first set.
- Players are being targeted in hotel rooms at major tournaments and offered upwards of £35,000 per fix by corrupt gamblers.
- Gambling syndicates in Russia and Italy made hundreds of thousands of pounds placing highly suspicious bets on matches — including at Wimbledon and the French Open.
- The names of more than 70 players appear on nine lists of suspected fixers who have been flagged up to the tennis authorities over the past decade without being sanctioned.
We may just have uncovered the tip of the iceberg here. For a sport that prides itself on decorum these allegations could be crippling, so hopefully those in the know name and shame the guilty parties soon and we can get started on cleaning up the game.
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