The BBC have reported that they have access to files revealing evidence of match fixing at Wimbledon, among the most historically prestigious tournaments in the sport. According to the report, at least “16 of the top 50-ranked players” were under continuous investigation for having allegedly thrown matches they would otherwise have been expected to win.
The policing body, the Tennis Investigative Unit, said these players had been “repeatedly flagged” for the action, and that there were “Grand Slam title winners” among them. No major names, however, were revealed, although the BBC said the ATP (the governing body for men’s tennis) had in fact opened up an investigation in 2007, nearly a decade ago, to look into these claims.
Investigations had begun that year following accusations that Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko had thrown a match he played against Argentinian professional Martin Vassallo Arguello at an ATP event in Sopot, Poland.
Although both players had then been exonerated of all blame, the enquiry would go on to persist.
Investigations and evidence uncovered by the BBC suggest that the betting syndicates run deep. There are allegedly links to crime syndicates in Russia, Sicily and parts of northern Italy which the report says have been profiting off betting on games that investigators in the Unit said they believed to be fixed.
It also said that three of those matches were significant and played at Wimbledon.
There are “ten players” the report said were at the crux of these allegations, who were considered the most “common perpetrators” according to an investigator who was part of the ATP’s original inquiry in 2007. The investigator, Mark Phillips, described the evidence that he had seen as “powerful,” but also added no action had been taken, though it could have been on the basis of the material gathered.
2008 had seen 28 players flagged for investigation, but no action had been taken at the time. In the years that followed, a TIU spokesman told the BBC that alerts had been sent to them about these players, but none of them were disciplined.
Although a new anti-corruption code was introduced in 2009, the TIU discovered upon seeking legal advice that offences from 2008 were not legally admissible, and so did not use them.
These players have, according to several sources, all been under the radar for a considerable amount of time – some as far back as the early 2000s. Whistleblowers approached the BBC with information they have now chosen to reveal.
Most recently, the Italian Tennis Federation banned Davis Cuppers Daniele Bracciali and Potito Starace for fixing in 2015, but later overturned those life bans only a few months later.
The allegations of fixing at a Slam come as a major shocker, especially considering the first Slam of the year – the Australian Open – has just commenced in Melbourne. There has not yet been any suggestion of current top 10 ATP players being involved but more information will be provided as it is made available.Published 18 Jan 2016, 07:13 IST