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WTA chief suspects mafia match-fixing link- 11 Jan 2008 00:00:00

Larry Scott, the chief executive of women’s tennis’ WTA Tour, has suggested that organised crime, and in particular the Russian mafia, could be behind the speculation of ongoing match-fixing in the sport.

In a media interview, Scott revealed that some players had told the governing body that they had been asked to throw matches.

He said: ‘One has to assume that people running organised crime would be involved in trying to gain an advantage by corrupting the competition. We have to be prepared for the possibility of Russian mafia involvement but we have no proof.

‘We have identified that there's an awful lot of gambling on tennis and that players have been approached by people who are trying to persuade them to throw a match or provide information about a match with incentives of money.

‘That's obviously against all the rules. We've got no proof of corruption having taken place, so I don't believe there is any corruption in women's tennis now.

‘But we are taking all reasonable steps to combat the threat and have been focussing a lot of attention on educating players on the importance of coming forward to share information with us.

‘Several players have come forward to talk to us about the approaches. They have acted very, very responsibly by coming to us and ensuring we have this information.’

Scott said anti-corruption would be ‘the first item on the agenda’ when he addresses 250 players before the start of the Australian Open this weekend.

Earlier this week the men's and women's tours joined forces with the organisers of the four Grand Slams and the International Tennis Federation to announce there would be a review of the sport's anti-corruption policies.

Scott believes the review could lead to the setting up of a joint unit across the sport with ‘policing and investigative powers’ which could lead to prosecutions.

He also confirmed that any player found to have been involved in corruption should be banned for life.

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