BBC-Buzzfeed disclosures appear to have struck a nerve
The wide international coverage on the BBC-Buzzfeed expose on match-fixing in tennis appears to have struck a nerve in global tennis regulation; on Wednesday tennis officials at the Australian Open in Melbourne held a further press conference to announce an independent review of the sport's anti-corruption measures.
The announcement follows a series of meetings between officials of the various bodies in tennis, an unprecedented collaboration, as Chris Kermode, the ATP chairman, commented:
"It is unprecedented that the seven stakeholders of tennis have come together so quickly with one purpose, and that is with the sole aim to restore public confidence in our sport."
The review will be all-embracing and led by Adam Lewis, a British expert in sports law. Its members have been promised full access to officials, players and information, and Lewis has been given authority to appoint two fellow panel members.
"All of us, all seven bodies in our sport, believe that 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, which is why we have taken this very bold step to commission a completely independent review," Kermode said.
He was backed at the conference by David Haggerty, the president of the International Tennis Federation, and Philip Brook, the chairman of the All England Club, which stages Wimbledon.
Brook is also chairman of the board that oversees the Tennis Integrity Unit, the sport's internal watchdog.
Brook defended the Tennis Integrity Unit, which has been criticised for doing too little to protect the sport from corruption, revealing that $14 million has been invested in the unit since 2008 and that 18 individuals have been convicted of corruption offences, with five players and one official banned for life.
But he acknowledged that improvement was both possible and important.
"I think the Tennis Integrity Unit has done very good work over the last seven years," Brook said. "We have a lot of confidence in the team there. I think what the events of the last few days have shown us, however, is that we are in a changed world. Sport is under the microscope. We have to reassure everybody in our sport, watching our sport, that integrity is absolutely at the top of our pile of things to do."
The integrity unit has six employees and, according to officials, a $2 million annual budget, but there are plans for more emphasis on education at the junior level and at the lowest ranks of the professional game, which have proved particularly vulnerable to match fixing because of the lower level of both scrutiny and prize money.
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