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Tennis Match-Fixing Claims Involve Wimbledon And French Open Competitors

18/01/2016 08:56 GMT | Updated 18/01/2016 10:59 GMT

Claims of match-fixing have rocked the world of tennis as the names of a number of top players - including Grand Slam champions and Wimbledon competitors - have been flagged.

The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has been made aware of the names of 16 players over the last decade amid fears they have thrown matches, according to an investigation by the BBC and BuzzFeed.

The match-fixing was allegedly orchestrated by gambling syndicates in Russia and Italy and involved prominent players, the Press Association reported.

It is suggested that players are being targeted in hotel rooms at major tournaments and offered 50,000 dollars (£35,200) or more per fix by corrupt gamblers. The syndicates have made hundreds of thousands of pounds placing bets on scores of matches, according to the investigation.

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Competitors at Wimbledon and the French Open are alleged to be involved in match-fixing

The investigation suggests that the suspects include Grand Slam singles and doubles champions and the alleged rigging took place at major tournaments including Wimbledon and the French Open. All the players were allowed to continue competing.

It is claimed the referrals to the TIU, set up to police the sport, were prompted by an investigation which started in 2007 following an inquiry into suspicious betting patterns in a match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello. Both men were cleared of breaking any rules.

Despite an increasing amount of evidence of suspicious activity revolving around a significant number of top players, no sanctions were handed out and the investigation was officially shelved the following year.

It is also suggested that the names of more than 70 players appear on nine leaked lists of suspected fixers who have been flagged up to the tennis authorities over the past decade without being sanctioned.

Kermode, who believes the threat of sports match-fixing is at an "incredibly small level", told the BBC: "It is simply not true that we are sitting on evidence.

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"What happens is that information and intelligence are given to the Tennis Integrity Unit and they then have to turn that into evidence.

"There is a big difference here between information and intelligence as to evidence. Every single bit of information that the Tennis Integrity Unit receives is investigated properly."

Building on the initial dossier of evidence, Buzzfeed News claims to have devised an algorithm which analysed gambling on professional tennis matches over the last seven years.

The organisation said its results identified 15 players who regularly featured in matches involving unusually lopsided betting patterns. Furthermore, four of those players lost almost all of those matches concerned, at a probability of around 1,000 to one.

World number two Andy Murray tweeted a link to the Buzzfeed report on Sunday evening but added no further comment.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday morning, culture, media and sport secretary John Whittingdale said an allegation such as this “taints the whole of the game”.

He said that he hoped the industry would investigate as soon as possible, adding: “I hope that tennis will learn from the mistakes of other sports.

“I would hope that Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association in England and Wales will actually call upon the International Tennis Federation to carry out a investigation very quickly.