ATP head Chris Kermode has rubbished reports that tennis authorities had “suppressed” information regarding possible match fixing in the sport.
A report on the eve of the start of the Australian Open on Monday claimed that over the past decade 16 top-50 players had been suspected to be involved in match fixing, but had not been punished.
Speaking to the press at Melbourne Park on Monday, Kermode said that, crucially, unlike those who had published the allegations – the BBC and BuzzFeed news – tennis authorities could only act on evidence, not reports.
“The Tennis Integrity Unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason or isn’t being thoroughly investigated,” Kermode told reporters.
“And while the BBC and BuzzFeed reports mainly refer to events from about 10 years ago, we will investigate any new information, and we always do.
“In its investigations, the Tennis Integrity Unit has to find evidence as opposed to information, suspicion, or hearsay. This is the key here, that it requires evidence.
“A year-long investigation into the Solpot match in 2007 [between Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina] found insufficient evidence. As the BuzzFeed report states itself, the investigators hit a brick wall and it just wasn’t possible to determine who the guilty party was in relation to this match.”
Kermode reiterated a determination to eradicate any form of match fixing in tennis.
“Let me just say that all of us here in tennis are absolutely committed to stamp out any form of corrupt conduct in our sport. There is a zero tolerance policy on this. We are not complacent. We are very vigilant on this,” he said.
“Whilst we are aware that all sport – all sport, not just tennis – is at potential risk of corruption, that is why, in 2008 the Tennis Integrity Unit was set up to actually tackle this issue head on. We are constantly vigilant and not complacent.”