February 12, 2016 / 2:16 PM / in 2 years

Tennis Integrity review to take at least a year

LONDON (Reuters) - An independent review panel (IRP) will take at least a year to investigate allegations of corruption in tennis and the effectiveness of existing procedures, the sport’s governing bodies said on Friday.

A man uses his phone next to a sign displaying the contact for the Tennis Integrity Unit at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Brandon Malone

The review was launched last month following media reports criticizing the Tennis Integrity unit (TIU) for not adequately investigating some 16 players repeatedly flagged over suspicions they had thrown matches in the past decade.

“While there is no fixed deadline for the IRP to complete its independent review, it is expected that the full review will take at least 12 months with the publication of an Interim Report during that time,” the four bodies said in a statement.

The terms of reference and protocols of the panel were announced by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Grand Slam Board.

Match-fixing allegations by the BBC and online BuzzFeed News broke before last month’s Australian Open.

The allegations were further fueled by former Australian professional Nick Lindahl pleading guilty in January to match-fixing in a minor tournament in 2013.

A top global bookmaker also suspended betting on a suspicious match at the Australian Open.

“The IRP will review the effectiveness and appropriateness of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP), the Tennis Integrity Unit and the Tennis Integrity Protection Programme (TIPP) and recommend any suggested changes,” the statement said.

It added that the IRP will have wide powers including the right to require the production of documents, carry out interviews and appoint experts.

The panel will also engage with international and state bodies, law enforcement agencies, betting operators and other relevant organizations.

A consultation process will follow publication of the Interim Report, after which a final report will be produced.

“The governing bodies of international tennis will publish this document and have committed to fund and implement all of the IRP’s recommendations,” the statement said.

The panel will be led by prominent British barrister Adam Lewis and made up of three members, with the other two to be confirmed by the end of February.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond

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