Tennis has been engulfed by a “tsunami” of corruption at the lower levels of the game involving “serious and substantial” match-fixing, an independent task force warned on Wednesday.
The review panel of three prominent lawyers found that there was a “tsunami” of fixed matches at the lower levels of the game, but also that there was no conspiracy or collusion among the sport’s governing bodies to cover it up.
According to BBC Sport, the report uncovered no evidence of top-level players being implicated or any signs that tennis’ governing bodies have attempted a cover-up.
The IRP did, however, find “some evidence of some issues” at higher-profile events such as Grand Slams, though nothing “widespread” was documented.
The report noted: “The panel has seen little empirical evidence that betting was widespread on the lowest levels of ITF tournaments before the deal in 2012. But in 2013, the year after the first ITF-Sportradar contract, 40,000 matches at ITF Men’s Futures and Women’s 15k and 25k events were made available to the betting market. By 2016 that number had increased to over 60,000.”
Because the Futures events offer such poor prize money, the report found that only 336 men and 253 women were able to break even – and that was before accounting for coaching costs. It meant that many players were vulnerable to being manipulated by fixers. “The nature of the game lends itself to manipulation for betting purposes,” the report added. “The player incentive structure creates a fertile breeding ground for breaches of integrity. Today tennis faces a serious integrity problem.”