A tennis match-fixing bomb has hit the news as the 2016 Autralian Open barely begins. Find out what happened and how they've been allegedly fixing their tennis picks.
A match fixing scandal has rocked the sport of tennis ahead of the 2016 Australian Open. Journalists from BBC News and Buzzfeed News UK launched a joint investigation analyzing 26,000 matches over the past seven years amid growing rumours of tennis matches being thrown to benefit gangs of criminal gambling on the outcomes of their tennis picks.
A New York-based journalist devised an algorithm that analysed the matches and spotted a trend whereby a group of 16 players would routinely lose, and each time large sums of money would be placed on them to lose. So much money was placed on them to lose that the tennis odds dramatically shifted in each instance.
These 16 players – all of whom have been ranked in the world’s top 50 – were flagged time and time again, and the journalists said these were the players that the tennis governing body has repeatedly been warned about. The media outlets said unnamed sources have passed them a “cache of documents” dating back to 2007 that expose “widespread suspected match-fixing at the top level of world tennis, including at Wimbledon”.
ATP Officials Look The Other Way
They added that professional investigators have told them they have discovered conclusive proof of match fixing, calling it a “smoking gun”, only to see their findings ignored by the tennis authorities. According to the BBC, eight of these players are taking part in the Australian Open, which has just begun. The rigging allegedly took place at major tournaments, including Wimbledon and the French Open, and was apparently orchestrated by criminal gangs in Russia and Italy. Leading players have allegedly been offered $50,000 to throw matches.
Concerns were first raised in 2008, when Russian Nikolay Davydenko played Argentina’s Martin Vassallo Arguello, and millions of dollars of suspicious bets were placed from Russian-based accounts. Investigators say they are presenting tennis officials with a smoking gun, but the governing body of the ATP said they had found no evidence of rule breaking by the players and let them go free. But the leaked files allegedly showed that Arguello exchanged a number of text messages with the suspected leader of an Italian gambling syndicate.
Italian and Russian syndicates were alleged to have placed suspicious bets on 72 matches involving 28 players, but the authorities drew a line under everything. However, the Tennis Integrity Unit was set up to stamp out any future match fixing and it has since disciplined 13 low-ranking players for match fixing and banned five for life. ATP president Chris Kermode said: “The Tennis Integrity Unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match fixing has been suppressed for any reason or isn't being thoroughly investigated.
“While the BBC and BuzzFeed reports mainly refer to events from about 10 years ago, we will investigate any new information and we always do.”