Australian tennis professionals were approached by Victoria Police last week about match fixing in the Australian Open, according to media reports.
Fairfax Media reported on Monday evening match fixing was “rife” in the sport, and one player was even approached weekly by crime figures “asking him to throw matches”.
It followed the release of details of an investigation by BuzzFeed UK and the BBC earlier the same day, that found authorities had taken no action despite repeated warnings of a network of professional players suspected of fixing matches.
According to Fairfax, detectives with Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit approached an Australian tennis player on Friday, to discuss match-fixing in first round matches of the Melbourne tournament.
On Monday morning, Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) president Chris Kermode acknowledged the possibility of this type of criminal activity in the sport, but said the level of activity was “incredibly small”.
“I am confident that tennis is a game of huge integrity,” Mr Kermode told the BBC, citing the establishment of the Tennis Integrity Unit, based at Wimbledon.
“It is simply not true that we’re sitting on evidence. What happens is that information and intelligence are given to the integrity unit and they then have to turn that into evidence.
“There’s a big difference here between information and intelligence, as [compared] to evidence.
“We are aware that it [match-fixing] is there, I think that it is on an incredibly small level, and it’s our business going forward that we keep acting on this in the best possible way.”
Director of Integrity at the Tennis Integrity Unit, Nigel Willerton, dismissed suggestions his investigative organisation was under resourced.
“The rules we’ve got are very robust and they give us good, good investigative powers,” Mr Willerton said.
He was asked to confirm or deny whether any current players on the tour or at the 2016 Australian Open were the subject of TIU investigations, however he refused to disclose any information.
Mr Kermode said that: “anything that is reported to the Tennis Integrity Unit is acted upon, and is investigated.”
This assertion was confirmed by Mr Willerton.
Also present was ATP vice-chairman and chief legal and media officer, Mark Young, however he did not respond to any questions.
“I don’t think it [betting companies sponsoring tennis] is an issue,” Mr Kermode said when questioned about the relationship.
“I think it can actually help at times because Nigel [Willerton] and the tennis integrity unit are working with betting companies all the time into corruption.”