Completing its first year under a new operating regime, the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has today published its annual review detailing the development of its work and further directives protecting tennis competitions, athletes and wider stakeholders from corruption.
Following a two-year investigation, the ‘Independent Review Panel’ (IRP) recommended that tennis’ combined governing bodies reform the TIU’s governance and working remit. This included extending the integrity unit’s reach to have additional powers to police tennis and reform the sport’s competitive structures.
Completing year-1 of its new operating regime, the TIU governance underlines that the integrity body has been successful in achieving a ‘sustained reduction’ in the number of tennis alerts.
The TIU reports that pro tennis alerts totalled 138 matches during 2019, a 48% reduction on 2018 results representing the lowest figure since statistics were first published in 2015.
Of note, the TIU underlines that the reduction was maintained across the year without being distorted by any exceptional quarterly trends, as all 2019 quarters reported reduced match alerts.
The integrity unit details a ‘combination of factors’ that have contributed to the downturn in match alerts, including the ‘deterrent effect’ of tougher TIU penalties on offending tennis players combined with the strengthening of tournament structures and athlete qualifications.
As a key remit, the TIU has strengthened its international cooperative framework, developing closer relationships with diverse law enforcements agencies, governing bodies and partners within the betting sector.
Further goals achieved see the TIU secure the removal of live scoring data from reporting on World Tennis Tour $15K events, a key recommendation of the IRP’s two-year investigation. The TIU’s Supervisory Board and the ITF have agreed to a timetable for reducing the supply of data for these tournaments towards complete discontinuance by 2021.
Entering a new decade, the ITF has also committed $8 million in financial resources moving to upgrade tournament security and player protections across its syndicated events.
The TIU’s 2020 agenda will see the integrity unit move to tackle ‘courtsiding as a specific offence’, detailing that the practice of individuals relaying live match data can be a facilitator for betting on lower-ranking tennis matches.
Strengthening its protections against courtsiding, the TIU has added new conditions to the ‘Tennis Anti-Corruption Program’ (TACP) enforcing that no athlete, coach or related personnel can ‘directly or indirectly facilitate another person’s wager on the outcome or other aspects of a competitive tennis match or tournament.
Jennie Price CBE, the TIU’s Independent Chair, stated that 2019 progress highlighted the unit’s ‘ambitions of becoming the most innovative integrity organisation in sport’.
“2020 will bring fresh challenges as betting on sports continues to grow, with new markets opening in the US and online gambling increasing,” she said.
“Its an Olympic and Paralympic year, putting the fight against on doping and corruption in a brighter spotlight. With more resources, independence and a continued commitment to excellence, the TIU is determined and well equipped to respond.”