As the Australian Open action heats up, so do allegations of match fixing. The sport's top players maintain their innocence while others suggest the corruption is at the lower levels.
A tennis corruption official, as well as a former tennis professional, have claimed match fixing is common in the sport and efforts to combat it are minimal. Current tennis stars ruled out the presense of match fixing at the top level.
"From my knowledge and information about match-fixing, there is nothing happening at the top level, as far as I know," said top-ranked tennis star Novak Djokovic to the BBC. He also claimed he turned down a 110,000-pound match fixing bribe earlier in his career, but insists there is "no real proof at the top level."
Chris Eaton, the director of integrity for the International Center for Sports Security, told the AFP there was "nil manipulation" at the top level of tennis, but the "manipulation indicators are heavy and regularly occuring" in the lower levels of tennis. "We are not the only sport integrity organisation to observe this."
Eaton has criticized the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) for being "opaque and secretive", hitting out at the anti-corrpution organization for "poor choice of structure and process" when they conduct investigations. "Integrity is by definition open and transparent. The TIU is neither... by operating in the shadows they fail to practice what they preach."
The TIU have released a statement to the BBC denying covering up match fixing in the sport. "The TIU and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason," the statement read.
As the match-fixing scandal surrounds the sport, the top tennis players at the Australian Open are just trying to look for answers. "As a player, you just want to be made aware of everything that's going on," said Andy Murray. "I think we deserve to know everything that's out there."
"I would love to hear names," said Roger Federer. "Then at least it's concrete stuff and you can actually debate about it."
dv/sb (AFP, SID)