Tennis chiefs announce inquiry into anti-corruption program

It comes less than 10 days after a report alleged widespread corruption.



In an unprecedented move, all seven tennis bodies have united to tackle the issue which has already plagued the Australian Open.


Today, tennis’s governing bodies put on a show of force – with a commitment to restore the public’s confidence.


Chairman of the Association of Tennis Professionals, Chris Kermode, says it’s the first time tennis’ seven international stakeholders have come together to push through an inquiry.


“We have taken this very bold step to commission a completely independent review. This will be an open review, nothing is off the table.”


Allegations of corruption made headlines on day one of play at the Australian Open, after a BBC-Buzzfeed report claiming widespread match-fixing at the sport’s highest levels.


Though tennis’ governing bodies maintain its speculation, Tennis integrity board chairman Philip Brook concedes the sport’s reputation has suffered.


“We are in a changed world, sport is under the microscope more and more, the integrity of sport in general, is under the microscope.”


Headed by prominent British QC, Adam Lewis, the review will look into the appropriateness and effectiveness of the Tennis Integrity Unit’s anti-corruption program, established in 2008.


Since then, 18 individuals have been convicted of corruption offences, and five players have received life bans.


The Australian Open has been plagued with accusations.


An international gambling agency suspended betting after large amounts of money were reportedly wagered on a mixed doubles match.


Chris Kermode says in the past nine days, he’s seen several lists of particular matches and players of concern.


“Having lists, which are mainly compiled of suspicious betting patterns, do not mean corruption, they are a red flag and they are investigated.”


President of the International Tennis Federation, David Haggerty, believes getting involved in corruption is a decision made by the individual player or official within the sport.


He says there’s only so much governing bodies can do.


“Someone’s either corrupt, or they’re not. There have been increases in prize money at the lower levels which will be increased over the next couple of years, but again, I think it’s a moral compass issue, someone’s corrupt at whatever level or they’re not.”


But much has changed since 2008, including a proliferation of online betting on mobile phones.


Tennis integrity board chairman Philip Brook says that has had an impact.


“There’s something like 68 different bets are possible, on a tennis match, more than half of them are in-play. And that does therefore enhance the possibility for people to organise things that are harder to spot.”


Gambling researcher Dr Charles Livingstone believes that’s made match-fixing easier – and wants tennis to distance itself from bookmakers.


“I doubt very much whether any of the sporting authorities reckoned it was going to get this big, this quick and I think they’ve dropped their guard.”


Once the review panel has completed its report, it will be made public, and tennis’ governing bodies have committed to implementing and funding all recommendations in full.


But Melbourne QC David Galbally says the task ahead is enormous, and the four grand slams are just the beginning.


“Below that level of course, are all the other tournaments that lead in, the feeder tournaments all over the world, that lead into these major ones, which all will have to be investigated.”