Mafia not linked to tennis corruption – report

The Italian or Russian Mafia are not inherently linked to corruption in tennis, an independent report by two former Scotland Yard detectives has found. However, “organised criminal gangs” could well be responsible for attempting to corrupt crooked professional players.

"We have found no evidence of 'Russian or Italian Mafia' involvement in corrupting the integrity of tennis," Ben Gunn and Jeff Rees wrote in their report.

"We do not doubt that criminal elements may be involved in seeking to subvert or corrupt some players or players' support staff; that may even involve organized criminal gangs, but to elevate that suspicion to a claim of 'Mafia' involvement is, in our view, a distortion of the facts and is positively damaging to the sport," the report added.

The investigation also included a review of 73 matches from the last five years – a high-percentage of those matches, 45, are still under a cloud of suspicion “from a betting perspective”.

The highest profile case currently under scrutiny is a Nikolay Davydenko match on which all bets were void on the online betting exchange Betfair after they began to notice unusual betting patterns. Davydenko, the world number four, eventually retired injured in that match against the unfancied Argentinean Martin Vassallo Arguello.

The report concluded that there were five potential threats to the integrity of tennis: “Namely, corrupt practice by players and others in respect to gambling; breaches of the rules in relation to tanking [giving up trying to win]; violation of credentials; misuse of inside information and illegal or abusive behaviour towards players."

Editor, - 2008-05-20 11:17:50

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