Two Italian players, including the country's number one Potito Starace, have been banned by the ATP for betting on tennis matches, the Italian Tennis Federation (FIT) said on Saturday.
Starace, 31st in the ATP rankings, was banned for six weeks from Jan. 1 and fined $30,000 for making five bets amounting to a total of around 90 euros two years ago, FIT said on its Web site (www.federtennis.it).
Daniele Bracciali, ranked 258th, was banned for three months and fined $20,000 for making around 50 bets of five euros each, it said.
The penalties come after Italy's Alessio Di Mauro was banned for nine months in November and became the first professional to be caught in a betting crackdown after a troubled period for the sport. [nL1018952]
A match in August between Russia's Nikolay Davydenko and lowly-ranked Argentine Martin Vassallo Arguello in Poland was voided by British online betting exchange Betfair because of unusual betting patterns.
Several players have since said they had turned down offers to throw a match in exchange for money.
The FIT complained that the ATP was making scapegoats of the three Italians.
"Injustice has been done," the FIT said.
"As with Alessio Di Mauro, the penalties are absolutely out of proportion with the size of infringements committed by the two players. Obviously, neither betted on their own matches.
"The ATP must have known about the bets made by the players for years, but it is only hitting them now to show that it is doing something about the real scandal of matches being fixed for dishonest gamblers."
Di Mauro has said he would appeal against his ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.