In response to match fixing allegations aired on BBC News and BuzzFeed online, the four governing bodies of tennis (ATP, WTA, Grand Slam Board, ITF) who are partners in the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), confirmed that there is a zero-tolerance approach to all aspects of corruption and that they are and will continue to be firmly committed to protecting the integrity of the sport.
Speaking on behalf of the partners, Chris Kermode, Executive Chairman of the ATP and Tennis Integrity Board member, said: “Tennis remains fully committed to meeting the challenge that all sports face from corrupt betting practices. We have stringent procedures and sanctions in place to deal with any suspected corruption and have shown we will act decisively when our integrity rules are broken.
“No player or official is immune from investigation, regardless of their status or position in the sport. Investigations follow where evidence leads.
All professional players, support staff and officials are subject to the terms of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP) which equips the TIU with substantial investigative powers. These include the right to interview any relevant person of interest and obtain their telephone, computer and bank records.
“No player or official is ever cleared by the TIU of potential involvement in corruption. By its very nature, corruption is difficult to prove, so while the process can often be lengthy, the TIU will continue to pursue evidence where it believes it is warranted.”
In 2011 the TIU opened an investigation into a player that was subsequently placed on-hold for lack of substantive evidence. When new evidence was obtained in 2013, the player was charged and found guilty of three breaches of the TACP. He was suspended for a period of five years and fined US$25,000. A subsequent appeal to the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) in early 2014 was dismissed and the original sanction upheld.
Kermode commented: “For four years the TIU continued to pursue this case; time and effort that was vindicated by removing a corrupt player from the game for a substantial period of time. We remain open and willing to upgrade any or all of the anti-corruption systems we have in place if we need to.”
In September 2008 the four tennis associations came together to streamline and strengthen corruption investigations becoming one of the first major sports to establish its own dedicated anti-corruption unit. The Tennis Investigation Unit is charged with enforcing the sport’s zero-tolerance policy towards gambling-related corruption worldwide.
Since 2010, TIU-instigated anti-corruption investigations have resulted in 18 successful disciplinary cases being brought forward. These prosecutions include five players and one official who have been banned from the sport for life. Each of the 18 cases was a result of TIU-instigated investigations, rather than law enforcement or judicial prosecutions, or sting or entrapment operations.
Where cases have been appealed by players to the Court for Arbitration in Sport, the original period of suspension handed down by an independent Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer has been upheld. This reinforces the robustness of the original investigation and the strength of evidence gathered by TIU.
The TIU online anti-corruption player education program is mandatory and has been completed by more than 23,000 professional players. Kermode explained: “There are nearly 21,000 active professional players and over 2,100 officials, playing and officiating in over 1,500 tournaments in 80 countries around the world. The vast majority of these individuals are good people of high integrity.
“Unfortunately, there is always a minority who seek personal gain from corrupt activity. Those individuals will continue to be subject to investigation by the TIU and disciplinary sanctions which include lifetime bans and punitive financial penalties.”