Match-fix­ing threat puts of­fi­cials on alert in Mel­bourne

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - COURT­NEY WALSH

Global and lo­cal in­tegrity units are wary but con­fi­dent they have a han­dle on the ev­er­p­re­sent scourge of match-fix­ing ahead of the Aus­tralian Open.

Em­ploy­ees of the Ten­nis In­tegrity Unit, which has been bol­stered over the past year, have met Ten­nis Aus­tralia’s own anti-cor­rup­tion depart­ment in re­cent days to fine-tune strate­gies.

Vic­to­ria Po­lice’s sport­ing in­tegrity in­tel­li­gence unit have reg­u­larly at­tended on site over the past two years amid in­creas­ing vig­i­lance in re­gards to the threat. And Ten­nis Aus­tralia will also host a con­fer­ence in­volv­ing the nation’s elite sports on Mon­day amid recog­ni­tion the fight against cor­rup­tion is far­rang­ing. The AFL, Cricket Aus­tralia, Rugby Aus­tralia, Bas­ket­ball Aus­tralia and the Of­fice of Rac­ing In­tegrity will at­tend the Fu­ture of Sports In­tegrity con­fer­ence hosted by Ann West, who heads the Ten­nis Aus­tralia unit.

The TA in­tegrity unit was the only na­tional body in the world to present at a world­wide con­fer­ence hosted by In­ter­pol.

“We con­tinue to take ev­ery step pos­si­ble to safe­guard the in­tegrity of our sport,” Ms West told The Week­end Aus­tralian.

“We have worked hard to foster closer re­la­tion­ships with the in­tegrity units of other ma­jor Aus­tralian sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions, along with law en­force­ment agen­cies both in Aus­tralia and over­seas.”

The in­creased re­sources and vig­i­lance fol­lows a cor­rup­tion bomb­shell that rocked the 2016 Aus­tralian Open. It in­volved wide­spread al­le­ga­tions of match-fix­ing and cor­rup­tion dat­ing back to the mid-2000s.

While many of the in­ci­dents had been cov­ered pre­vi­ously, the to­tal­ity shocked au­thor­i­ties into in­sti­gat­ing a wide­spread, global in­ves­ti­ga­tion into fix­ing.

The re­port, headed by Lon­don QC Adam Lewis, is ex­pected to be made pub­lic in com­ing weeks. Among rec­om­men­da­tions is the ex­pec­ta­tion of a dras­tic overhaul of the In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion Fu­tures cir­cuit, where the ma­jor­ity of threats oc­cur.

Rea­sons for op­ti­mism next week stem in part from a dip in the num­ber of sus­pi­cious bet­ting alerts re­ported by wa­ger­ing com­pa­nies at grand slam level over the past year.

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