Match- fix­ing talk heats up

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

Mel­bourne, aus­tralia » Swiss su­per­star Roger Fed­erer has heard enough spec­u­la­tion about match­fix­ing in ten­nis. If play­ers are sus­pected of cor­rup­tion, he wants names.

Fed­erer was re­spond­ing to re­ports by the BBC and Buz­zFeed News pub­lished Mon­day that said ten­nis au­thor­i­ties have sup­pressed ev­i­dence of match- fix­ing and over­looked sus­pected cases in­volv­ing play­ers ranked in theworld’s top 50, in­clud­ing Grand Slam sin­gles and dou­bles win­ners.

The re­ports said none of th­ese play­ers had faced sanc­tions and more than half would be play­ing at the Aus­tralian Open, which be­gan Mon­day. The play­ers weren’t iden­ti­fied by name.

“I’d love to hear names,” Fed­erer said af­ter sweep­ing Nikoloz Basi­lashvili 6- 2, 6- 1, 6- 2. “Then at least it’s con­crete stuff and you can ac­tu­ally de­bate about it. Was it the player? Was it the sup­port team? Whowas it? Was it be­fore? Was it a dou­bles player, a sin­gles player? And which Slam?

“It’s su­per se­ri­ous and it’s su­per im­por­tant to main­tain the in­tegrity of our sport. So how high up does it go? The higher it goes, the more sur­prised I would be.”

ATP chair­man Chris Ker­mode ap­peared at a news con­fer­ence to re­ject the as­ser­tion that match- fix­ing had gone unchecked in the sport, say­ing the Ten­nis In­tegrity Unit re­mained “con­stantly vig­i­lant and not com­pla­cent” when it comes to tack­ling cor­rup­tion.

“The Ten­nis In­tegrity Unit and ten­nis au­thor­i­ties ab­so­lutely re­ject any sug­ges­tion that ev­i­dence of match- fix­ing has been sup­pressed for any rea­son or isn’t be­ing thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated,” Ker­mode said.

Top- ranked No­vak Djokovic said he doubted the prob­lem ex­tended to the top level of the sport, and pointed to the en­hanced mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems put in place.

“We have, I think, a sport ( that has) evolved and up­graded our pro­grams and au­thor­i­ties to deal with th­ese par­tic­u­lar cases,” he said. “There’s no real proof or ev­i­dence yet of any ac­tive play­ers ( be­ing in­volved in match- fix­ing), for that mat­ter. As long as it’s like that, it’s just spec­u­la­tion.”

Djokovic did con­firm, though, that mem­bers of his sup­port team were of­fered $ 200,000 to have him lose a first- round match in St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia, in 2007.

“Iwas not ap­proached di­rectly. I was ap­proached through peo­ple that were work­ing with me at that time,” he said. “Of course, we ( re­jected) it right away. It didn’t even get to me — the guy that was try­ing to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me di­rectly. There was noth­ing out of it.”

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