The governing bodies of pro tennis - comprised of the ATP, WTA, ITF, and Grand Slam Board - announced Wednesday that they will commission an independent review of its anti-corruption program, in the wake of reports at the outset of the Australian Open that evidence of match-fixing had been ignored or improperly investigated.
The review will be headed by leading London sports barrister Adam Lewis QC, and will focus on the "processes, procedures, and resources" of the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU). The unit was established in 2008, when allegations of match-fixing came to the fore.
Just before the Aussie Open main draw kicked off 10 days ago, the BBC and BuzzFeed News published reports saying evidence of possible match-fixing had been brought to the TIU, but that years on, nothing had been done. According to the report, authorities were repeatedly warned about 16 players - none of whom were named, but all of whom were allegedly ranked in the top 50 at one point in time and more than half of whom allegedly played in this year's Australian Open.
"With everything in the news, and the serious allegations that have been thrown at our sport, the last thing anyone wants is another sports body investigating itself," ATP chairman Chris Kermode said Wednesday. "Which is why we have taken this very bold step to commission a completely independent review.
"This will be an open review. Nothing is off the table. Adam Lewis QC and the review panel can look at anything, they can talk to anyone, investigate anything, and the four important points are: There is no deadline to this review; it will take as long as is needed. It will cost what it costs. The results will be made public, and they'll be published. And the most important point is that we have committed to act on every recommendation."
The governing bodies specified in a press release the issues they expect the review panel to address. They include:
- How the TIU can be more transparent without compromising the TIU's need for investigative confidentiality
- Additional resources for the TIU both within the unit and at tournaments
- Structural and/or governance changes that enhance the independence of the TIU
- How to extend the scope and reach of the tennis integrity education program
The release, co-signed by Kermode, WTA CEO Steve Simon, and ITF president David Haggerty, concludes:
"Given the seriousness of the issue, we call on all governments worldwide to make match-fixing a distinct criminal offence, resourced by national crime fighting agencies working in cooperation with sports integrity boards and other relevant stakeholders."