Russian and Italian criminal organizations have allegedly bribed professional tennis players as part of a worldwide match-fixing scandal, and then making money off betting on the arranged contests, an investigation by online news outlet BuzzFeed News and the BBC has revealed.
The groups have made hundreds of thousands of dollars betting on the scores of matches that investigators believe to have been fixed, including even the famous Wimbledon tennis tournament, according to the joint investigation's findings, which were published Monday.
BuzzFeed and the BBC obtained the findings of an investigation into match-fixing carried out by the Association of Tennis Professionals between 2007 and 2008. The news outlets reported that at least 16 players that have been ranked in the top 50 worldwide were involved in match-fixing over the past decade.
The investigation looking into suspicious betting activities following a match between Russian tennis player Nikolay Davydenko and Argentina's Martin Vassallo Arguello, but these suspicions were never confirmed. The investigation continued, however, and expanded into a wider probe looking into gambling on tennis matches.
According to the documents, in 2008, a total of 28 players were suspected of involving in match-fixing, but no probe into the players was opened.
Citing an unidentified ex-tennis player from South America, the BBC reported on Tuesday that match-fixing is a common practice — even among several elite players. The source also said that fixing was “a secret that everybody knows.”
Shamil Tarpischev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, commenting on BBC's allegations said there is no evidence proving allegations of corruption and match-fixing in world tennis.
“I'm sure it is just a personal promotion of BBC, which we shouldn't react to,” Tarpischev was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying on Tuesday.
According Tarpischev, top players are definitely not involved in match-fixing. They just don't need to do it, he told TASS.