Educate players about dangers of match-fixing: Murray

Melbourne/St. Petersburg, Jan 19 (IANS) World No.2 Andy Murray has called on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) to ramp up education about the dangers of corruption in the wake of widespread match fixing accusations by players even as denials and ignorance were expressed as reactions to the report of malpractice in the sport.

An investigation into tennis match fixing by two prominent media organisations has come up with evidence that 16 professional players have been caught in the scandal.

The findings of the investigation by BuzzFeed News and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) were revealed on Monday as 2016’s first Major, the Australian Open, began at Melbourne Park.

A US Open champion and doubles winners at Wimbledon were among a core group of 16 players who had continually been reported for losing games when highly suspicious bets were placed against them.

Murray, who won his opening round match at the Australian Open on Tuesday, said there is not enough being done to educate younger and inexperienced players about the dangers of getting involved in match fixing practices.

The Scot, who was one of the first players to become aware of the joint BuzzFeed/BBC investigation on Monday, said it was almost understandable for inexperienced players to be tempted into corruption if racketeers offered substantial amounts of money to fix matches.

He said junior and lower-level players who were struggling to make ends meet were most at risk.

“I’ve been aware of the issue since I was quite young. I think when people come with those sums of money when you’re that age, I think sometimes people can make mistakes,” Murray told reporters.

“I do think it is important from a young age that players are better educated and made aware of what they should do in those situations and how a decision (to match fix) can affect your career and the whole sport.”

Tennis Australia’s CEO and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley on Tuesday joined the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) and the other world tennis authorities in rejecting media suggestions that evidence of match fixing has been suppressed.

“We have built an international reputation for the integrity of the tournament and the anti-corruption systems we have in place,” Tiley said in a statement.

“In conjunction with world tennis we have developed leading anti-doping, disciplinary, anti-corruption and security policies. All involved in the administration of the Australian Open will not tolerate any deviations from our values and rules at any level.”

Serbian tennis star and World No.1 Novak Djokovic said on Monday that he was asked to purposely lose one of his matches in the 2007 tournament in St. Petersburg.

Djokovic stressed that it was his team and not him personally who received the offer on the fix-up, which he declined.

The organisers of the 2007 St. Petersburg Open had nothing to do with the alleged instances of match fixing, director general of the tournament’s organising company Alexander Medvedev said reacting to the report.

“Even if such case did take place within the frames of the tournament in St. Petersburg, it does not mean that the organisers were involved,” Medvedev said on Monday.

“Bookmakers have been long active in Internet. Knowing Djokovic I understand why he declined and, on the whole, I cannot even imagine who would make him such offer,” he added.

The Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) president Shamil Tarpishchev also said it has has no information that Djokovic was approached with a match-fixing offer.

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