Tennis Integrity Unit alerts dip to record low in Q1

5 April 2019

The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), the sport’s anti-corruption body, has reported 21 match betting alerts for the first quarter of 2019, the lowest quarterly figure since its integrity data was first made public in 2015.

The total for the three months to March 31, 2019, represents a decline on the 38 reports that were filed in the corresponding period last year, as well as a sharp drop on 77 that were submitted in the final quarter of 2018.

Of the 21 reports that were filed in Q1, 20 were in relation to events on either the ATP Challenger or ITF World Tennis Tour (WTT) circuits. ITF WTF Men’s $15k events produced the most alerts, with a total of eight submitted in the quarter.

Five reports were put forward for the ATP Challenger series, in addition to four on ITF WTT women’s $15k events, two for the ITF WTT Men’s $25k series and one each for the ITF WTT Women’s $25k and WTA Tour circuits.

The TIU did not receive a single report for any of its Grand Slam or ATP Tour events, nor its Hopman, Davis or Fed Cup competitions.

Reports are registered when the unusual betting activity is reported through the TIU’s confidential Memorandums of Understanding with the regulated gambling industry.

The TIU records, assesses and follows up each alert to investigate such activity, but not all reports are classed as evidence of match fixing, with some attributed to innocent factors such as incorrect odds-setting, well-informed betting, player fitness, fatigue and form, playing conditions and personal circumstances.

When the TIU rules that a report does suggest corrupt activity, it carries out a full, confidential investigation to conclude how this happened, with the potential to hand out punishments such as bans to payers and officials.

Also during the first quarter, the TIU moved enhance its investigative efforts with the appointment of former law enforcement officer Mark Fletcher, who joined after a 27-year career as a detective with the Metropolitan Police in London.

Fletcher becomes the eighth member of the TIU’s dedicated investigative team and 17th member of staff overall.

In February, the TIU also appointed former Sport England CEO Jennie Price as independent chair of its Supervisory Board. Price will have support from four other independent members in addition to four representatives from the governing bodies of tennis, with the TIU in the process of finalising its new independent members.

The TIU team also carried out a series of new education initiatives for juniors, professional players, coaches and staff in an effort to extend the scope and reach of anti-corruption education.

These included working with Tennis Europe to deliver an educational video aimed at junior players, while the TIU app has been updated with a number of new features to inform both players and stakeholders of rule changes.

Various TIU anti-corruption education content has also been incorporated into new modules of the ITF Academy, while TIU integrity criteria has been added to the ITF Recognition of National Training Centres programme.

In addition, junior and professional players currently receiving the ITF or Grand Slam Development Fund grants are now required to undertake TIU education as part of their contracts.

The news comes after tennis was cited as the main focus of suspicious betting activity by international integrity body ESSA in 2018. The organisation received 267 reports of unusual wagering activity from operator partners, with tennis responsible for more than half of these cases.