Authorities to review anti-corruption unit after match-fixing scandal

Tennis officials on Wednesday (January 27) launched an independent review into their anti-corruption practices after allegations the sport’s watchdog, the Tennis Integrity unit (TIU), had been ineffective in stamping out corruption in the game.

The announcement at the Australian Open came in the wake of media reports on the first day of the tournament that 16 players, who have been ranked in the top 50 had been repeatedly flagged to the TIU over suspicions they had thrown matches in the past decade.

“The Independent Review Panel will review and report on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the Tennis Anti-Corruption programme and make recommendations for change,” said the joint statement from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tours, the grand slam board and International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The review would address issues of transparency and resourcing at the TIU, structural or governance issues, and how to extend the scope of tennis’ anti-corruption education programmes.

“It is vital we repair this damage and that we do so quickly, which is why today, we are announcing an independent review that will examine all aspects of tennis’s anti-corruption program, including the tennis integrity unit’s work, which will make recommendations for change. We are determined to do everything we need to remove corruption from our sport,” Tennis Integrity Board chairman Philip Brook told reporters in Melbourne.

Allegations of match-fixing surfaced at the Australian Open when a top global bookmaker suspended betting on a mixed doubles match last Sunday after unusually large amounts were bet on it.

The players have denied any involvement.

“We are in a toxic environment for sport at the moment in terms of, it’s an easy target for people to have a go with recent allegations of other governing bodies. We want to be as open and transparent as possible to demonstrate that we will look at this thoroughly. There is a zero, zero tolerance for this in our game, but lets review and see how we can move forward better,” ATP Chairman Chris Kermode told the media conference.

London barrister Adam Lewis QC will head the inquiry and its report will be made publicly available.

“You know, having lists of, which are mainly complied by suspicious betting patterns do not mean corruption, they are a red flag and they are investigated. Personally, I think it’s irresponsible for anyone to publish names, verging on liable,” added Kermode.

Authorities previously defended the TIU and denied allegations it was under-resourced and did not have necessary enforcement powers.

They said they had put about $14 million into their anti-corruption measures and successfully investigated and sanctioned 18 players, six of whom received life bans.

The review board would be fully funded by tennis authorities and they would be granted wide-ranging investigative powers. (Reuters)