BBC has revealed shocking allegations about some of the most popular tennis athletes in the world, right before the Australian Open. It turns out that 16 players who are commonly ranked in the top 50 were flagged by the Tennis Integrity Unit repeatedly because of suspected match fixing. Despite their continuous suspicious behavior, the players were allowed to keep competing in top matches, including Wimbledon.
The cache of documents released by BBC and Buzzfeed News contain the findings of investigations from 2007 to 2009. According to the documents, players may have been throwing games in order to benefit massive betting syndicates throughout Russia, Italy, and Sicily. In several suspicious matches, the favorite player would win the first set, a huge betting syndicate would suddenly make many bets for the other player, and then the underdog would go on to win the rest of the sets within the match suddenly. Roughly 26,000 matches may have been fixed.
The Tennis Integrity Unit supposedly has a zero tolerance policy towards cheating for the purpose of betting and corruption. However, the fact that none of the investigated players were punished, even though they were repeatedly flagged for suspicions of match fixing, is concerning many people. These allegations claim that officials of the sport are ignoring non trustworthy and unethical behavior because they want to maintain the popularity of the sport and make money.
No one is specifically named within the documents, but a core group of 16 players seems to be fixing the most matches. Popular favorites such as Nadal, Federer, and Serena Williams are now being suspected by fans, even though Serena Williams is not involved in many of the tournaments mentioned in the documents. New allegations against players are repeatedly surfacing, so more information may be released soon about the top 50 ranked involvement.
With the Australian Open currently occurring, these new allegations about the top 50 ranked involvement in the cheating scandal are very concerning. Non trustworthy athletes throwing matches to make money damages the integrity of the entire sport. Some tournaments, such as the Grand Slam, have increased the money that they pay to all players, so that even the players who cannot consistently win like Nadal and Federer still make enough money. It is hoped that stricter rules and better pay will prevent athletes from cheating, but many are concerned that matches are still being regularly fixed. The new allegations make it likely that the authorities attempted to cover up the scandal in order to avoid bad press.