Tennis

Novak Djokovic Admits Being Approached By Match-Fixers After Stunning Revelations

Novak Djokovic Admits Being Approached By Match-Fixers After Stunning Revelations

The first Grand Slam of the year began today accompanied by the disclosure that eight of the competitors this year have been investigated by the Tennis Integrity Unit over alleged match-fixing.

An investigation by the BBC and Buzz Feed News has found that over the past decade 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 have been 'repeatedly flagged' by the Tennis Integrity Unit over claims that they had thrown games.

None were banned for any period of time.

Their number includes Grand Slam champions. Half of them are competing in the First Round of the Australian Open today.

The information has arisen out of an investigation set up by the ATP in 2007. The report was completed the following year and it was recommended that 28 players should be investigated. The confidential findings were never followed up.

A number of whistleblowers within tennis decided to pass the findings onto the BBC and Buzz Feed News.

These documents show that the enquiry uncovered evidence of betting syndicates in Russia, Northern Italy, and Sicily making huge money on games under suspicion.

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One of the investigators, Mark Phillips, said the material he had gathered was as powerful as any he'd seen in 20 years.

There was a core of about 10 players who we believed were the most common perpetrators that were at the root of the problem.

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.

The TIU has failed to take action against any of the players named. Several current players remain under suspicion. Betting organisations and professional gamblers have been repeatedly warning the TIU about certain players but no action has been taken.

The betting is not just confined to matches but also to individual sets.

The BBC's Simon Cox told Newstalk that he had been told by bookies and professional gamblers that they seen cases in the past year in which players were favourite to win the match but not favourite to win the first set.

That never happens. It's illogical. If you're favourite to win the match, then you're favourite to win the first set.

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The only explanation was that players had taken money to throw that first set.

After his First Round win today, Novak Djokovic told a press conference that he had been approached - indirectly - about throwing a match in St. Petersburg in 2007.

I was not approached directly. I was approached through people that were working with me at that time," he told reporters in Melbourne.

Of course, we threw it away right away. It didn't even get to me, the guy that was trying to talk to me, didn't even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it.

Unfortunately in those times (there were) rumours, some talks, some people were going around. They were dealt with.

In the last six, seven years, I haven't heard anything similar. I personally was never approached directly, so I have nothing more to say about that.

The chief of the ATP, Chris Kermode denied claims that evidence of match-fixing was 'being suppressed or wasn't being thoroughly investigated.'

Tennis instituted a new anti-corruption code in 2009 and say they were told by their lawyers that they couldn't enforce this code retrospectively.

Daily Mail tennis correspondent Mike Dickson argued today that tennis has in fact got corruption under control and that most of these allegations relate to 'a wild west period' between 2006 and 2009 when the sport was caught unaware by the growth in online gambling. He says the sport faces a more pressing problem over the question of doping.

Read more: Could We Be Finally Set For A Viable All-Ireland B Competition?

 

Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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