December 19, 2018 / 10:50 PM / a month ago

Tennis: Sport faces 'serious integrity problem' - review panel

(Reuters) - Scrapping official live scoring data at the lowest level of professional tennis and taking a harder line on “tanking” are among the recommendations made by an International Review Panel in a report published on Wednesday.

The panel was formed in 2016 by the sport’s four main professional governing bodies to address betting-related and other integrity issues.

“Today, tennis faces a serious integrity problem,” the panel said. “There are several reasons for this: The nature of the game lends itself to manipulation for betting purposes.

“There are many contingencies. There is only one player who must act. Detection is difficult, not least because at many lower level matches there are no spectators and inadequate facilities to protect players from potential corrupters.

“Moreover, under-performance is often attributed to ‘tanking’, which too often has been tolerated.”

The panel said there was no simple solution to the problem with a package of measures required, including banning tournaments from accepting sponsorship by the betting industry and reorganizing the Tennis Integrity Unit with independent oversight.

The panel said players in the lowest tiers were susceptible to being corrupted because of the difficulty of making a living, with only 250-350 players earning enough money to break even.

“The player incentive structure creates a fertile breeding ground for breaches of integrity,” the panel said.

The sport’s major bodies released a joint statement saying they would work jointly to implement the panel’s recommendations.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond

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