Tennis Match Fixing Part 2 – Thin and Stale Soup?

I’m not really sure if soup can go stale, but some of these allegations are pretty old

What little has been disclosed in the allegations of widespread match fixing in professional tennis seems to be about old cases that may or may not have been that credible.  This piece from Inside Tennis does a great job of explaining the current “scandal”: http://www.insidetennis.com/2016/01/australian-open-gambling-charges-fall-short/

This is a serious topic and if problems exist they need to come to light with transparency. The charges to this point seem quite stale.  My biggest concern in the short-term is the emergence of a witch hunt mentality.  Novak Djokovic was hit with a less than plausible broadside over a 2007 match after he volunteered feeling sick over someone contacting his camp about taking a dive.  This sort of hysteria leading to unfounded accusations is only going to hurt the sport.

My second biggest concern is that tennis might avoid transparency or rigor in figuring out what is going on in terms of this or other controversial issues.  The reasons this might happen is an incentive for maintaining the status quo always exists especially when times are good.  Also, tennis is governed by an alphabet soup of agencies including but not limited to the ATP, the WTA, and the ITF.  This means no one is clearly in charge.  If a match were fixed in a major, Davis Cup, Fed Cup or the Olympic games, it would fall under the ITF.  If a match were fixed elsewhere it would likely fall to the ATP or WTA tours.  How can one look at suspicious patterns properly if some of the pattern took place in events not governed by the body investigating.  In theory the agencies could cooperate and share everything, but that seems unlikely in practice.

I also think clarification will be needed for instances in which a player is using a new racquet, new strings, etc. and has a lower chance at victory than would normally exist. These situations could be exploited by gambling interests without a fix taking place. Similarly, as I mentioned situations such as Andre Agassi admitting to tanking the 1996 Australian Open semifinal with no gambling pressure being behind the tank need some sort of category/sanction if and when such tank jobs come to light.  The sort of precise distinctions that need to be articulated will once again have a hard time emerging due to the alphabet soup of leadership that is present in professional tennis.

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