'Tsunami' of match-fixing in non-elite tennis: review panel

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The panel found "evidence of some issues" at grand slams and tour events, although it did not see a widespread problem at those levels, with no top-level players implicated. The findings state that the biggest problems lie in lower levels of the game on the Futures Tour, due to the low prize money providing an incentive for players to match-fix for financial reward.

It said the TIU needs to increase its staffing - as of now, it does not employ tennis or gambling experts, for example - and needs to be "entirely independent", including being housed separately from the ITF and having regular external audits.

As well as banning betting companies from sponsoring lower-level tournaments, it is recommended that the sale of live scoring data is discontinued and better security for players is provided at such events. "Only the top 250 to 350 players earn enough money to break even".

It also draws on statements from more than 200 key stakeholders in professional tennis, including from governing bodies, tournament organisers and betting operators. The review did not find evidence of a cover-up by either the Tennis Integrity Unit or the International Tennis Federation and the Association of Tennis Professionals - a finding welcomed by the governing bodies.

"It is a small step for a player who already intends to lose for other reasons, to bet or to make others aware of their intentions".

The report dates numerous problems to the 2011 agreement between the ITF and data company Sportradar for the sale of live scoring data.

"Fundamental reform is required", Lewis said.

"At the same time we will continue to implement existing initiatives to enhance and expand tennis's governance of the sport in relation to betting-related integrity".

Investigation of suspicious incidents at Grand Slam events was deemed "insufficient" by the report, while other enquiries were "inappropriate or ineffective, resulting in missed opportunities".

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He said there were "shortcomings in the sport's efforts to address the long-standing, underlying causes of breaches".

Buzzfeed and the BBC also alleged that evidence had been suppressed.

Lewis added: "In a number of instances, the ATP failed to exhaust potential leads before ending investigations".

"ESSA will now begin to consider the detail of the interim report and to consult with our members, which represent numerous largest regulated betting operators, to determine how best to respond to the report's initial findings and recommendations".

One interesting reference is to a "match fixing season" which is said to run from October until the end of the season at lower levels.

The panel found no evidence of a cover up, or corruption at the top level, but describes a system ill-equipped to deal with the substantial threat at lower levels.

The ITF's $70m deal with data company Sportradar to distribute live scores from tournaments, including less lucrative events, has heightened the problem.

In fact, according to the TIU's annual report of 2017, the numbers of prima facie "betting alerts" actually went down previous year.

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