Melbourne - Tennis authorities on Wednesday
announced an independent review into their fight against corruption after a
bombshell report alleging widespread match-fixing cast a shadow over the sport.
In an announcement at the Australian Open,
the ATP, WTA, ITF and the heads of all four Grand Slams said the review was
aimed at shaking up tennis's opaque anti-corruption body, and called for
governments worldwide to make match-fixing a criminal offence.
Tennis has been left reeling after last
week's BBC and BuzzFeed report sparked a succession of corruption revelations,
putting the sport under the microscope after scandals also engulfed football
"The environment for all major sports,
including tennis, has changed dramatically over the past eight years and
combined with issues raised in the media, we believe now is the right time to
review how we continue to fight corruption in the game," a joint statement
"Given the seriousness of the issue,
we call on all governments worldwide to make match-fixing a distinct criminal
offence, resourced by national crime-fighting agencies working in cooperation
with sports integrity boards and other relevant stakeholders."
The main priority of the review, headed by
Adam Lewis QC, a London-based leading expert on sports law, is to look at the
structure of the Tennis Integrity Unit, including how to make it more
transparent and better resourced.
Tennis authorities pledged to make the
review's outcomes public and to "implement and fund all the actions
Tennis has poured US$14 million into its
anti-corruption body, which was set up in 2008 and has secured 18 convictions
including six life bans, mainly involving obscure and low-ranking players.
The corruption issue has consumed the
Australian Open, the season's first Grand Slam tournament, with some players
revealing previous match-fixing approaches including world number one Novak
It comes after the BBC and BuzzFeed report,
citing leaked files, said players who had reached the top 50 had been
repeatedly suspected of fixing matches but had never faced action.
On Sunday, two players were questioned by
the Tennis Integrity Unit after a report of an unusual betting pattern
surrounding a mixed doubles match in the Australian Open's first round.
Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP)
head Chris Kermode said tennis was keen to address the problem and not go down
the route of "other sports" which have become mired in controversy.
Athletics' world governing body, the IAAF,
has been hit by claims of a doping cover-up and football's FIFA has been rocked
by a succession of bribery and corruption scandals.
But Kermode also criticised the naming of
players in relation to unusual betting patterns, especially after the bizarre
citing of Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, a former world number one and two-time
Grand Slam champion.
The naming of Hewitt "speaks
volumes", Kermode told reporters in Melbourne. "I'm not sure he'd
give his mother one point while he was playing," he said.
Philip Brook, the chairman of both
Wimbledon and the Tennis Integrity Board, said all governments needed to help
in the fight against match-fixing by making it a punishable offence.
"It's a criminal offence in certain parts
of the world and not in others. This is not just a tennis issue," Brook
Chris Eaton, director of integrity at the
International Centre for Sport Security, said last week that betting analysis
showed that signs of match manipulation were "heavy and regularly
occurring" in the sport's lower levels.