The files contained detailed evidence of suspected match–fixing taking place over the last decade.
The case revolves around 16 players who have been flagged repeatedly to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over suspicions they have thrown matches.
The TIU has stated in the past that it has a zero-tolerance policy regarding betting-related corruption. Despite this, all players suspected of corruption have continued to compete.
In the years following initial reports, repeated alerts were sent to the TIU about a third of these players. None of them were ever disciplined by the TIU.
Chris Kermode, the head of the Association of Tennis Professionals, has rejected the claims of match–fixing, but has stated “while the BBC and BuzzFeed reports mainly refer to events from about 10 years ago, we will investigate any new information.”
The documents obtained by the BBC and Buzzfeed show betting syndicates in Russia, northern Italy and Sicily making large sums by betting on matches investigators thought to be fixed.
According to the BBC “in a confidential report for the tennis authorities in 2008, the enquiry team said 28 players involved in these matches should be investigated, but the findings were never followed up.”
A new anti-corruption code was introduced in 2009 but previous corruption offenses could not be pursued.
The result was that no new investigations of the players mentioned in the 2008 report were explored, a TIU spokesman said.
The BBC and Buzzfeed were also passed names of other players the TIU have repeatedly been warned about by several organizations including betting organizations, sports integrity units and professional gamblers.
Many of these players have been suspected of having involvement in suspicious matches in the past.
The BBC also contacted Mark Phillips, who was one of the betting investigators in an inquiry done in 2007. Philips told BBC that during his investigations a specific group was discovered with repeated suspicious betting activity.
“There was a core of about 10 players who we believed were the most common perpetrators that were at the root of the problem,” Phillips said.
“The evidence was really strong,” he added. “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.”
“They could have got rid of a network of players that would have almost completely cleared the sport up… We gave them everything tied up with a nice pink bow on top and they took no action at all.”
The European Sports Security Association flagged up over 50 suspicious matches to the TIU in 2015.The organization declared that tennis attracts more suspicious gambling activity than other sport.
The TIU director has stated “all credible information received by the TIU is analysed, assessed, and investigated by highly experienced former law-enforcement investigators.”
Despite past warnings and recent emerging evidence, 8 of the 16 players who have been flagged repeatedly to the TIU are set to play in the Australian Open which starts on today.
Takara Scott-Johnston. Reprinted with permission from Athletic Business, www.