Tennis authorities have announced that an independent review team will look into the allegations that the game’s anti-corruption watchdog, Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) was ineffective in stopping corruption in the form of match-fixing.
“The Independent Review Panel will review and report on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the Tennis Anti-Corruption programme and make recommendations for change,” said the joint statement from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tours, the Grand Slam Board and International Tennis Federation (ITF).
The announcement was made at the Australian Open On Wednesday.
Ten days ago, on the first day of the Australian Open, there were allegations of match fixing against some top players who had thrown away matches. The TIU was also accused of deliberately giving a blind eye to them.
According to a report by BBC and Buzzfeed News the TIU, which is set up to police illegal activities in tennis, either failed to act upon information that identified suspicious behaviour among players, or impose any sanctions.
The report further said that 16 players including Grand Slam winners had thrown away matches in the last decade. And what was more shocking was that 8 of those 16 players were participating in the ongoing Australian Open tournament.
“It is vital we repair this damage and that we do so quickly, which is why today, we are announcing an independent review that will examine all aspects of tennis’s anti-corruption program, including the tennis integrity unit’s work, which will make recommendations for change. We are determined to do everything we need to remove corruption from our sport,” Tennis Integrity Board chairman Philip Brook told reporters in Melbourne.
The review will also set out to address issues of transparency and resourcing at the TIU, structural or governance issues, and how to extend the scope of tennis’ anti-corruption education programmes, claimed the authorities.
The inquiry will be headed by London barrister Adam Lewis QC and its report will be made publicly available.
“We are in a toxic environment for sport at the moment in terms of, it’s an easy target for people to have a go with recent allegations of other governing bodies. We want to be as open and transparent as possible to demonstrate that we will look at this thoroughly. There is a zero, zero tolerance for this in our game, but lets review and see how we can move forward better,” added ATP Chairman Chris Kermode.
Earlier, a day after the allegations against TIU surfaced, tennis authorities had vehemently defended the TIU and denied the allegations.
“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,” Kermode had said on January 18.
Meanwhile, the players continue to express shock and grief. World number 1, Novak Djokovic came out to say that he rejected a whopping 110,000 pounds to lose a match five years ago. On the other hand, 3rd seed Roger Federer said that the media organisations should have come out with the names of the 16 players who were accused.
(With inputs from agencies)