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Match-fixing claims rock tennis


Tennis has been rocked by allegations of widespread match-fixing just hours ahead of the Australian Open.

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Secret files leaked to BuzzFeed News and the BBC allegedly show evidence of match rigging among some of the world’s high-ranking players, including grand slam winners.

According to the report, authorities have been repeatedly warned about 16 players ranked in the top 50 who were suspected of throwing matches.

Half of the players are due to play at the first major of the year in Melbourne beginning on Monday and all of the players were allowed to continue competing despite continued warnings.

The report has prompted Independent Senator for SA Nick Xenophon to call for an “urgent clamp down” on sports betting.

The alleged match-fixing was reportedly orchestrated by gambling syndicates in Russia and Italy and involved prominent players and included three matches at Wimbledon.

The investigation is based on a cache of leaked documents from an inquiry set up by the ATP in 2007 to look into claims of match fixing and suspicious gambling.

“There was a core of about 10 players who we believed were the most common perpetrators that were at the root of the problem,” Mark Phillips, one of the betting investigators in the inquiry, told the BBC.

Phillips said the evidence which he gathered was as powerful as any he had seen in over 20 years as a betting investigator.

“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,” he said.

BuzzFeed News began investigating match fixing after developing an algorithm which analysed gambling on professional tennis matches over the past seven years.

According to the site, the algorithm identified 15 players who “regularly lost matches in which heavily lopsided betting appeared to substantially shift the odds – a red flag for possible match-fixing”.

“Four players showed particularly unusual patterns, losing almost all of these red-flag matches. Given the bookmakers’ initial odds, the chances that the players would perform that badly were less than 1 in 1,000,” the site said.

The players have not been named.

Speaking at the Australian Open this morning, ATP executive chairman and president Chris Kermode said the organisation absolutely rejects any suggestion evidence of tennis match-fixing has been suppressed.

“The Tennis Integrity Unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match fixing has been suppressed for any reason or isn’t being thoroughly investigated,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

– with AAP


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