Match-fixing in Tennis: still not a problem for authorithies

A few days ago the Tennis Integrity Unit released a brief note about the second quarter alerts received through Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with regulators and betting organisations.

The number is not really much different from the 1st quarter

I have to reaffirm that these figures are, for my own experience, absolutely not close to reality, which is at least five times higher.

Even considering those figures true, you would expect some dozens of players suspended or fined because so far this year bookmakers alerted the Tennis Integrity Unit of about 121 suspicious matches.

Shockingly, the Tennis Integrity Unit found only two players guilty in 2016

  • Unranked Jatuporn Nalamphun from Thailand

    The unranked 22-year old admitted to three breaches of Section D.1.a of the Program, which prohibits betting on tennis matches, between July and November 2014.

  • Ranked #1691 Bulgarian Danail Tarpov 

September 2013 Mr Tarpov set up and registered an online betting account with Bet365, for use by the son of his then coach Novolai Ivanchev.

He subsequently allowed and assisted his personal bank account to be used for operating the account. A total of 1,221 tennis bets were placed, although these did not include bets on matches involving Mr Tarpov.

No evidence of betting linked to match-fixing or other corruption offenses was uncovered by the TIU.

So neither of them was involved in match-fixing, because match-fixing doesn’t exist at all!

On my Twitter account I keep posting a few examples of very suspicious matches and here it is a brief summary:

Vadim Alekseenko has been blacklisted long time ago by the biggest bookmaker for ITF betting (Bet365) but there areplenty of local bookies where you can put decent amounts on his matches.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 1.58.40 AM

You can often easily detect if a set is sold when you notice that Bet365 removes current set winner odds and cut limits for the match as happened in these matches (this happens when players are confident they can win the match anyway).

Jarryd Bant won the match 6-0 3-6 6-3

Michal Franek won the match 6-4 3-6 6-2

Ana Savic won 2-6 6-1 6-0

Yuliya Kalabina won 3-6 6-0 6-1

Nicolas Ferrando won 6-3 2-6 6-1

Sadly, also a top junior as Jurabek Karimov seems also involved in match-fixing.

We all love the legend of the game Enrico Becuzzi (for those who don’t know him, is a player that travels all around the world for the love of the game, despite losing very easily any match he plays) but it is hard to describe this score without thinking about a fixed 1st set, and Cristobal Saavedra-Corvalan / Eduardo Dischinger didn’t even care about doing it not blatantly!

I put only a few matches on my Twitter account but you can see the amount is quite big considering that in this article I considered only matches played in last 2 months; surely the Tennis Integrity Unit received alerts from bookmakers for these matches but as far as we know they took no action. Even if they investigated, considering that they want smoking guns as skype conversations, smartphone chats, bank transactions etc they will never be able to find anyone so stupid to leave evidence like that.

Well, in fact someone has been quite stupid to do this and this is the reason why Italian Top150 player Marco Cecchinato has been suspended for 18 months by Italian Tennis Federation; he was found guilty of fixing a Challenger Tour match (Mohammedia 2015 against Polish Kamil Majchrzak) and of other offenses like giving inside information about his training partner Andreas Seppi’s physical shape and using inside information about ITF tour matches from and about other Italian players.

All the bets were placed on account of Cecchinato’s friend (Riccardo Accardi) and the investigators managed to find evidences because Accardi, without the presence of his lawyer, let them to have full access to his mobile phone where they found enough evidence (whatssap conversations with Cecchinato and another ITF player Antonio Campo) to give him a 18 months ban and a 40.000 euro fine. It has to be said that this affair sounds a bit dodgy because reading the beginning of the article you understand that the investigation started because Italian Monopoly (that manages all the betting licenses) noticed an abnormal amount of money placed against Cecchinato in the Mohammedia match, with tens of bets placed through Accardi’s accounts. Later in the article, and as confirmed by Cecchinato’s lawyer, the total amount placed was just 800 euros. For my own experience, 800 euros on a Challenger match cannot absolutely be considered an abnormal amount and I don’t really understand why the investigation started if they really placed only 800 euros on the match. We will have to wait for new information from the trial to understand what really happened; anyway, is pretty clear from the whatsapp conversations that Cecchinato was used to gambling and that his behavior cannot be considered acceptable.

I would like to underline that using inside information about players ebing injured or prone to tanking (because they have a cheaper flight shortly after the match, or because they have to play club championship matches) is quite a normal practice for players at ITF level that use this kind of info to recover some money from their expenses; this is very different from match-fixing but of course is still something not allowed.

Anyway, considering also the Potito Starace and Daniele Bracciali charges, it seems like only Italian investigators are interested in tennis match-fixing and that the Tennis Integrity Unit always arrives later and you could be sure that if the Italian investigator had been quiet, the Italian players would have never been caught.

Either way, the Cecchinato case proves that the TIU’s statement that they found no evidence of match-fixing related to betting rings very false.

If the Tennis Integrity Unit will keep considering as valid only blatant evidences they will never be able to ban any of the daily fixers we have on tour.

Editor’s Note: As usual, LWOS is not directly accusing any player of cheating or match-fixing without corroborating evidence. Our writer is merely presenting the facts about betting odds, the most likely–and possibly only–explanation of which is that the matches have been fixed.

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