Tennis menace: Wimbledon matches “may have been fixed”

World No.1 Novak Djokovic reveals he was offered £140,000 to throw match in Russia

International tennis has been served a curveball after an investigation has revealed evidence of match fixing at the highest level of world tennis, including at Wimbledon, and those accused of throwing matches include winners of grand slam titles.

Over the last ten years, as many as sixteen players have been “repeatedly flagged” to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), over concerns they may be purposefully losing matches.

But all of the players have been allowed to continue playing, leading to heavy criticism of the tennis authorities.

Half of the sixteen players are to begin taking part in the Australian open today.

The investigation, by BBC and BuzzFeed journalists, is based on a cache of leaked documents combined with new analysis of over 26,000 tennis matches, alongside interviews with experts, tennis officials and players.

BuzzFeed News said it developed an algorithm to analyse gambling patterns for tennis matches over the last seven years. They identified 15 players who regularly lost matches in which lopsided betting appeared to substantially shift the odds – a red flag for possible match-fixing.

“Four players showed particularly unusual patterns, losing almost all of these red-flag matches. Given the bookmakers’ initial odds, the chances that the players would perform that badly were less than 1 in 1,000.”

The original files the journalists used come from a 2008 probe. They contained information about possible match fixing syndicates in Russia and Italy, which the tennis authorities “shelved”, BuzzFeed reports. This was to the frustration of the investigators themselves. “They could have got rid of a network of players that would have almost completely cleared the sport up,” investigator Mark Phillips said.

“We gave them everything tied up with a nice pink bow on top and they took no action at all.”

Meanwhile, former police chief Benn Gunn, said the tennis authorities had missed a “perfect opportunity” to clean up the sport.

 Chris Kermode, the president of the Association of Tennis Professionals said: “I can assure you that tennis is not treating this lightly.

“The idea that tennis is not acting appropriately is ludicrous.”

Since the publication of the findings, current world number one in the men’s game, Novak Djokovic, has revealed that he was offered £140,000 to throw a game in St Petersburg in 2007.

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