Here is some disturbing news to wake up to: Women have been approached to throw matches at the Australian Open. There is strong suspicion that the Russian mafia may be involved in gambling on tennis and if this proves to be true this is indeed alarming. For its part, the WTA has determined that they are clean from such corruption.
The WTA goes to extreme lengths to prevent gambling from entering their competition threatening any player who does fall prey to a gambling bribe with a suspension for life. These measures are even tougher than the ones taken when a player has been caught using doping or any other forbidden substances such as cocaine .
While the WTA takes pro active measures to ensure the integrity of its sport, I think it’s just a matter of time before a player succumbs to pressure and says “yes”. Gambling is a lucrative business and having a player to throw a match ( peacefully or by other means) versus a player of Roger Federer’s caliber would definitely bring in the cash for both the player and the racketeers.
The WTA is a commercially succesful enterprise and one that is very protective of its players. Together with Tennis Australia and the ATP Tour they have setup an anti corruption hotline where players can call in when they have suspicions or witness any suspicious match fixing.
These measures can be percieved as turning the WTA into a de facto police state. However, desperate measures may be necessary in order to keep the game as clean as possible from the many greedy vultures who threaten the sport. Tennis must remain not only in the hands of the fans who love the game but to the sponsors who invest millions in it on a yearly basis. Tennis must face the people who would betray it.
Tennis Australia has even put a former senior detective on the case. His investigation will also encompass the bettting sites on world wide web to monitor, among other things, gambling irregularities. Moreover, as a preventive measure fans will not be allowed to carry laptops in and around the tennis courts.
Hopefully with the measures undertaken tennis will be able to prevent criminals attempting to castrate the game’s integrity and from establishing themselves in a world they don’t belong to.