Match-fixing threat puts officials on alert in Melbourne
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.