After Match-Fixing Allegations, Tennis Groups Plan Watchdog Review

In the past two weeks, reports alleging widespread match-fixing within professional tennis have caught the sport's governing bodies off-guard. The first concrete step being taken in response to the allegations? An independent look at the Tennis Integrity Unit—the watchdog meant to deal with such issues.

In the past two weeks, reports alleging widespread match fixing within professional tennis have caught the sport’s governing bodies off guard. The first concrete step being taken in response? An independent look at the Tennis Integrity Unit.

With the Australian Open marred by a series of negative media reports suggesting widespread match fixing in professional tennis, the organizational bodies behind the sport are looking to solve a growing problem.

The first step? Calling for an independent review of the game’s primary watchdog. Last week the groups that organize the game announced they would have independent investigators look into the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), whose veracity in responding to accusations of match fixing was challenged by reports in BuzzFeed and the BBC.

Complicating matters further was the unusual betting patterns around a mixed doubles match at the Australian Open, in which a large amount of money was bet against Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero, who quickly lost a set against Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot. The transaction levels were so high on what would generally be considered an obscure match that the gambling website Pinnacle Sports halted betting for that match. (Arruabarrena and Marrero deny fixing the match.)

With questions about the match coming so soon after the in-depth reports, the pressure was on to do something.

Philip Brook, the chairman of TIU, said that while a televised BBC report “did not reveal anything new” about the match-fixing scandal, the intense coverage the story received made it necessary to respond.

“It is vital that we repair this damage and that we do so quickly, which is why today we’re announcing an independent review that will examine all aspects of tennis’ anti-corruption program, including the Tennis Integrity Unit’s work, which will make recommendations for change,” Brook said last week, according to ESPN. “We are determined to do everything we need to do to remove corruption from our sport.”

According to Chris Kermode, the chairman of the Association of Tennis Professionals, the independent review, being led by U.K.-based barrister Adam Lewis, will produce an in-depth report about the issues raised by recent news reports, but the association would also like to see an interim report to allow any quick steps to be implemented right away.

“There is no deadline for this review,” Kermode said, per the ESPN report. “It will take as long as needed. It will cost what it costs. The results will be made public and published. And the most important point is, we intend to act on every recommendation.”

(Toby Melville/Reuters)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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