Tennis Integrity Unit needs more money to combat corruption

Chris Kermode ATP ChefTennis - Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships - Dubai - ATP - - United Arab Emirates - 2015The head of the ATP has agreed that more money needs to be spent on tackling corruption. Chris Kermode, the ATP’s president and chief executive, and Nigel Willerton, director of the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), addressed a panel of UK lawmakers amid allegations of match-fixing and corruption.

The TIU is funded by tennis’ governing bodies and operates on a budget of $2 million, just 0.4 percent of the ATP’s turnover. Kermode said he agreed that wasn’t enough, adding ‘we will spend whatever is needed to tackle the problem’.

The number of alerts of suspicious betting activity flagged up and passed to the TIU has increased from 14 in 2012 to 246 last year. Also, the BBC and BuzzFeed News alleged in January that tennis authorities had suppressed evidence of match-fixing and failed to thoroughly investigate possible cases of corruption involving 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 over the past decade.

Willerton confirmed that five suspected cases of fixing have occurred at grand slam events since 2013, none at Wimbledon. He admitted that recent allegations had damaged the image of tennis, but countered that alerts of suspicious activity at top-tier or middle-tier events are ”few and far between.”

During the Culture, Media and Sports Committee hearing at the House of Commons, Willerton also insisted that no issues regarding potential match-fixing had been kept ”in-house” by tennis authorities, and dismissed suggestions that those players accused of corruption should be named:

”You are innocent until proven guilty. These people have sponsors, and if you name the people you are investigating and there’s nothing at the end of it, you’ll have affected their whole livelihood on what I consider one stream of information and a betting alert. I don’t think that’s proportionate.”

An independent investigation into the allegations of match-fixing and corruption in tennis was announced during the Australian Open last month and will take at least a year. The probe will also investigate the effectiveness of existing anti-corruption practices and procedures.

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