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Life bans for match-fixers, says WTA
January 15, 2008 14:41 IST
Any female tennis player found guilty of match-fixing will be given a lifetime ban from the sport, the head of women's tennis said on Tuesday.
Larry Scott, the chairman and CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, confirmed that "several" players have been approached to alter the outcome of a match, and said that the battle against gambling is as important as the fight against doping.
"There will be a lifetime ban if any player is associated with match-fixing," Scott said in an interview.
"We have to treat it with the utmost seriousness like that.
"We're treating it in a similar way [as doping], as evidenced by the fact that we're working together, all the governing bodies, like we do with doping.
"We're going to have to apply some significant resources and work with outsiders to make sure [we have the right] policing, investigating, and that we have very stringent rules, to act as a deterrent so it doesn't happen."
Several male players say they have been approached to fix matches, while three Italians -- Potito Starace, Daniele Bracciali and Alessio Di Mauro -- all received bans for betting on matches.
The problem of gambling and match-fixing came to a head last year after a match between Russian Nikolay Davydenko and Argentine Martin Vassallo Arguello was placed under investigation by the ATP.
A British betting exchange company reported irregular betting patterns on the match and voided all bets.
Some of the top women players said recently that they believe the WTA Tour is clean, a claim backed up by Scott.
"I am not aware of any player who has broken a rule, there is no proof that there is any player, or anyone in the environment who has done anything wrong," Scott said.
"All we know is that people are trying to convince our players and people in the environment to do something, so it's a threat.
"We see it as a threat but we don't have a problem that we're aware of. We're trying to make sure the measures we have in place keep it that way.
"There's nothing we can do to ever stop people trying to cheat -- what we can do is make sure it doesn't become a problem."
Scott would not confirm how many players had been approached, but said they had alerted the WTA of the problems last year.
"Last year was when this issue got elevated for us, when we had a better sense of how much gambling is happening and how many players have been approached about it.
"[With] each player there has been an investigation and we've tried to get as much information as possible."
Scott held a meeting last Saturday with 250 female players, at which match-fixing was top of the agenda.
"I think there was a lot of surprise among them. They've been kind of surprised this is even an issue and convinced their sport is clean, [but] they are aware that we are dealing with it proactively and educating them about it."
Scott said he expects all the sport's governing bodies to work together in a bid to stop corruption.
"I imagine one of the regulations that comes back [from an independent review] is that we harmonise, so that each body would honour any penalties another might institute."