So the big news from the first three days at the Australian Open wasn’t what happened on the court, but unfortunately what’s taking place off it. Specifically, gambling thugs are continuing to make their presence felt in tennis, especially at the lower levels, targeting players and allegedly at times threatening them to fix matches, that according to a new report form Buzzfeed and the BBC.
Is this breaking news? Not really. We’ve known about match-fixing and gambling in tennis for quite some time. I even wrote about it back in 2007 in the Davydenko aftermath and again following the the Djokovic bride revelation.
But the evidence is mounting that the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), which was established as a result of the Davydenko case, just isn’t doing enough. And per the report, with just two employees how can they properly police tennis on a global level – not just Tour, but also Challenger and Futures events which are everywhere and are available to gamblers online?
Answer: They can’t. And really no matter how many staffers they hire this will continue. That’s the sad truth not just in tennis but in all of sports. Where there’s a buck to be made, there will be people looking to take the easy way.
Thus far, no names have been released. And until that time, there’s not much known other than this alleged incriminating data which, according to the reports, has been repeatedly ignored by the TIU, hence the need to go public here. But I’m with Roger Federer who says let’s hear the names, because without them there’s not much to go on here other than the Davydenko incident which we know was mishandled.
That said. is the TIU doing enough? Probably not.
Does match-fixing go on in tennis? Yes (hence the bans).
Is it widespread? It sounds to be more concentrated at the lower levels, so if anythings, that’s a relief. But I say that because few have heard of the players who have been banned.
Will match-fixing continue? Probably.
Will this report change things for the better? I hope. It raises the awareness and it should make players more willing to speak up about any incidents, and it should provide some extra money for authorities to police the issue.
But will any changes ultimately stop match fixing? No.
Short of doing away with gambling in tennis – and that’s 100% not happening because of all the money out there (though they could limit some of the various forms of “live” betting which are a major weakness here) – this issue is really up to the players to just say “no”.
A TIU or tennis official cannot be on every corner or in every lobby preventing these “evil-doers” from getting access to players. It’s going to happen. So, like the drug issue, this falls on the players.
“Do I want to go down that road or not?”
And anyone caught should be banned from the sport. That simple.
I understand in this scandal there is talk of the TIU hiding or covering up crimes for fear of losing the sport. Well, if you don’t become more open about your findings and your methodology you might lose them anyway. I hope for now we can return to tennis, but unfortunately this isn’t going away for good anytime soon. And just wait until those names come out, because they are going to. Oh boy.
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