Corruption in international tennis remains a serious problem

Corruption in international tennis remains a serious problem

April 26, 2018 10:06 AM
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Although there is no widespread problem at the upper levels of the game, corruption in international tennis remains a serious problem, according to a newly released independent review of corruption in tennis.

The report released Wednesday shows no cover-up of improper betting or match-fixing by tennis’ governing bodies, although it did find there were “errors made and opportunities missed,” Adam Lewis, a member of the three-lawyer review panel, said at a news conference in London.

Grand Slam and other tournaments are heavily wagered events internationally. Generally, only the major tournaments are available for betting in Nevada, the only legal tennis-wagering marketplace in the U.S.

The report advises putting an end to the International Tennis Federation’s sale of official live scoring data; increasing transparency by making public the tournament appearance fees paid to some players; and expanding the staffing and reach of the Tennis Integrity Unit, the anti-corruption group established in 2008 after a surge of suspicious betting activity in tennis, reports the Associated Press.

“Fundamental reform is required,” Lewis said.

The panel called this an interim report and said a final version would be issued later this year.

A joint statement issued by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), World Tennis Association (WTA) and the four Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open) agreed “that there are vulnerabilities, particularly at the lower levels of tennis” and pledged to “address these concerns through firm and decisive action.”

At the crux of the tennis betting issue, according to the report, is the live scoring data made available to betting websites since 2012.

The report says, “While these deals have generated considerable funds for the sport, they have also greatly expanded the available markets for betting on the lowest levels of professional tennis,” the panel wrote. “They (tennis officials) did not appropriately assess the potential adverse effects of these agreements before entering into them.”

Sports wagering observers note that some U.S. sports leagues are seeking to control statistical data should sports betting become national in scope after the Supreme Court rules on the challenge to the federal law currently banning single-game wagering in every state but Nevada. They note that if a sports league were to control such data, rather than an independent source, it could create a major conflict of interest and an invitation for corruption.