x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

The fight against corruption in tennis

Allegations of insider information are the latest claims to be made about the sport.

It is alleged Roger Federer gave insider information before the match to Theodore Forstmann, the owner of IMG.
It is alleged Roger Federer gave insider information before the match to Theodore Forstmann, the owner of IMG.

After the spot-fixing controversy in cricket, it is now the turn of tennis to be dragged through the murky allegations of shady deals and inside information. And unbelievably, it is the name of Roger Federer which is being sullied.

According to the American news website TMZ, a printing company filed a suit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court against the media agency IMG over a business dispute.

Part of the suit alleges that Theodore Forstmann - the owner of IMG, which manages Federer and other sporting superstars - used "inside information" to wager on a Federer match and also bet on other sports.

The company, Agate Printing, claims to have made millions of dollars in bets for Forstmann. The suit also alleges "Federer gave Forstmann inside information" about his 2007 French Open final against Rafael Nadal, following which Forstmann raised his bet on Federer from US$10,000 (Dh36,700) to $40,000. Federer lost that match.

Federer was shocked by the allegation. He was quoted by TMZ as saying: "The whole thing is 100 per cent not true. It's disappointing that someone's throwing my name around. I would never do such a thing."

There may not be much truth in the allegations against Federer, but match-fixing in tennis has been a genuine worry.

To counter concerns, officials have created a Tennis Integrity Unit, which fined Russia's Ekaterina Bychkova and suspended her for 30 days for failing to report an offer by bookmakers to provide inside information and throw matches.

In October 2007, Alessio De Mauro became the first player to be sentenced under the new rules, he was fined £30,000 (Dh 175,154) and banned for nine months. The Italian was guilty of betting on other matches, not his own, and had never made any attempts to influence their outcomes.

According to recent reports, however, a dossier has found the results of more than 140 matches since 2002 to be suspicious.

In 2007 Nikolay Davydenko - then the world No 4 - was accused of fixing his match against Vasello Arguello.

Around £7 million had been wagered on the game, the vast majority on an Arguello win. The Russian was cleared of all charges a year later.

Being an individual sport, John McEnroe believes it is easier to fix matches in tennis than team games.

"This is a sport where you have only two people performing," the American said earlier this year. "If you were one of these guys who wants to try to fix a sporting event, it would probably be easier for you to get one person rather than say 10 people if you were playing a cricket match or soccer game or something."

 

arizvi@thenational.ae