Tennis has been rocked by allegations of widespread match-fixing just hours ahead of the Australian Open.
Secret files leaked to BuzzFeed News and the BBC allegedly show evidence of match rigging amongst some of the world’s high-ranking players, including grand slam winners.
According to the report, authorities have been repeatedly warned about 16 players ranked in the top 50 who were suspected of throwing matches.
Half of the players are due to play at the first major of the year in Melbourne beginning on Monday and all of the players were allowed to continue competing despite continued warnings.
The match-fixing was orchestrated by gambling syndicates in Russia and Italy and involved prominent players and included three matches at Wimbledon.
The investigation is based on a cache of leaked documents from an enquiry set up by the ATP in 2007 to look into claims of match fixing and suspicious gambling.
“There was a core of about 10 players who we believed were the most common perpetrators that were at the root of the problem,” Mark Phillips, one of the betting investigators in the enquiry, told the BBC.
Phillips said the evidence which he gathered was as powerful as any he had seen in over 20 years as a betting investigator.
“The evidence was really strong. There appeared to be a really good chance to nip it in the bud and get a strong deterrent out there to root out the main bad apples,” he said.
None of the players involved have been named.