Friday, February 23, 2018 10:22:24 PM
Australia's Nick Lindahl was Tuesday banned for seven years and fined US$35,000 for corruption with two others also sanctioned as tennis authorities step up their fight against match-fixing ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.
Lindahl, who reached a career-high ranking of 187, was found guilty of contriving or attempting to contrive the outcome of an event and failing to cooperate with a Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) investigation.
The case related to his offer to throw a match at a Futures tournament in Australia in 2013 and a refusal to provide his mobile phone for forensic investigations on the TIU's request.
"Although Mr. Lindahl, 28, retired from the sport in 2013, today's decision prevents him from resuming playing professional tennis for the seven years of the ban," the TIU said in a statement.
"He is also prohibited from attending any tournament or event organised or sanctioned by the governing bodies of the sport for that period."
Lindahl was convicted in an Australian court last year for "using corrupt conduct information" and fined Aus$1,000 over the same incident.
Two other players, Brandon Walkin and Isaac Frost, were also disciplined after being found guilty of corruption at the same tournament.
Walkin, ranked 1,066, was slapped with a six-month suspension for passing a corrupt proposal to another party on behalf of Lindahl. His punishment was suspended for six months, meaning he is free to continue playing.
Frost, ranked 1,515, was found guilty of refusing to supply his phone for analysis. He has already served a one-month suspension, the TIU revealed, with no further action taken.
The sanctions come just days after police in Australia said an 18-year-old had been charged with match-fixing at a tournament in Victoria last October. He was widely named in local media as Oliver Anderson, an emerging star who is the reigning Australian Open boys champion and was reportedly approached to drop a set.
The claim underlined concerns about corruption in tennis as the world's leading players assemble in Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of the season, starting next week.
Reacting to the Anderson news, world number one Andy Murray urged severe punishments for anyone found cheating.
"If it's happening, there should be the most severe punishments for whoever is involved in it," Murray said, in views backed by his rival Novak Djokovic.
Last month, Spanish police arrested 34 people, including low-ranking players, from a network that fixed matches in Spain and Portugal.
And in September, South African player Joshua Chetty was banned for life after being found guilty of match-fixing charges.
Last year's Australian Open was blighted by bombshell media allegations that match-fixing was rife and that authorities had done little to counter the issue.
Citing leaked files, the BBC and Buzzfeed said players who had reached the top 50 had been repeatedly suspected of fixing matches but had never faced action.
It sparked an independent review headed by barrister Adam Lewis QC, a London-based expert on sports law, aimed at shaking up the Tennis Integrity Unit.
In the wake of the revelations, Australian tennis authorities boosted measures to fight the scourge, including having anti-corruption officers at all sanctioned events and blocking gambling websites via public wifi at tournaments.
They also increased prize money at lower levels of the sport in a bid to counter the lure of easy cash to fix games at events where there is little media scrutiny.
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