Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tennis Is Getting a Black Eye

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tennis Is Getting a Black Eye

Article excerpt

In the past few days on courts halfway around the world, the 2016 Grand Slam tennis season got under way, turning the spotlight to a sport normally thrilled to take it. But rather than making headlines for daily matches and results, players at the Australian Open have been left answering questions about the integrity of their game, the fallout of a recent investigative news report alleging high-level match fixing for years throughout the sport.

Thus does tennis take a turn on this carousel of shame, the latest reminder that gambling continues to touch too many corners of our sporting world and remains the single greatest threat to the very foundation of the games we love. For all the issues that draw our concern, ranging from the severe (illegal use of performance- enhancing drugs) to the paltry (irregular inflation of footballs), there is no debating the threat gambling poses to sports, how alive the constant risk of foul play remains.

With million of dollars in play - and the most popular betting event of all time, the Super Bowl, just weeks away - it's important to continually question how vigilant our sports leaders are in rooting out the corrosive influence of gamblers looking for any edge to win a bet. Anyone wondering why the NFL has instituted and enforced a policy of sharing injury information throughout the entire week leading up to games needs look no further than the bookmakers and bettors, to those who would love nothing more than inside information that could lead to an unfair advantage.

This is the crisis tennis is facing now, the consequence of a BBC/ BuzzFeed News report posted to the web Sunday and titled "The Tennis Racket." Opening with the declaration: "Secret files exposing evidence of widespread match-fixing by players at the upper level of world tennis can today be revealed," the report cites "a cache of leaked documents from inside the sport - the Fixing Files - as well as an original analysis of the betting activity on 26,000 matches and interviews across three continents with gambling and match- fixing experts, tennis officials, and players."

Perhaps most damningly, the report also accuses the world's tennis governing bodies of failing to act on their knowledge of the evidence, virtually ignoring multiple warnings. "The names of more than 70 players appear on nine leaked lists of suspected fixers who have been flagged up to the tennis authorities over the past decade without being sanctioned," it says.

Not surprisingly, the report rocked the tennis world, drastically altering the tone of the coverage of the Australian Open. Top players Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were asked about the allegations, and give the outspoken Murray credit for detailing the work his sports leaders need to do now, not shrinking from the ugliness of the claims, but looking to expose it fully, particularly to the tour's current players. …

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