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Former World’s No. 1 calls British media allegations of fix-up tennis matches absurd

February 04, 14:43 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"No one wants to take the risk, not mentioning if you come from the Top 100. If you get caught, it is the end of your career," Dinara Safina told TASS
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Dinara Safina

Dinara Safina

© AP Photo/Darron Cummings

MOSCOW, February 4. /TASS/. World’s leading tennis players are prohibited from talking to bookmakers and earlier British media reports that they were allegedly involved in fix-up matches are absurd, former World’s No. 1 tennis player Dinara Safina told TASS on Thursday.

Last month BBC as well as BuzzFeed News reported that over the last decade players, who had been ranked among the world’s top 50, including winners of Grand Slam titles, were involved in match-fixing.

"I do not know why British media kicked up a row," Safina said in an interview with TASS. "It seems that they are living in some sort of a cycle and have an urge of coming up with something scandalous once in half a year. Perhaps, they [BBC] were in need to improve their ratings."

"However, accusations of match-fixing against leading tennis players are totally absurd," she said. "This is an individual sport and everyone wants to win. No one wants to take the risk, not mentioning if you come from the Top 100. If you get caught, it is the end of your career."

"We were prohibited from even talking to bookmakers," Safina said. "In WTA [Women Tennis Association] we were told that anyone caught [in fix-up matches] would be immediately disqualified. This is why we were literarily recoiled from the bookmakers."

"I am sure that the scandal flared up out of nothing and appeared only for the sake of hype," the 2008 Olympic silver medalist added.

BBC reported last month that the documents it obtained "show the enquiry found betting syndicates in Russia, northern Italy and Sicily making hundreds of thousands of pounds betting on matches investigators thought to be fixed. Three of these matches were at Wimbledon."

The investigation examined suspicious betting activity after a game involving Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo. Both players were cleared of violating any rules but the investigation developed into a much wider enquiry looking into a web of gamblers linked to top-level players, according to the BBC.

The sole tennis players caught in match-fixing by now are Daniel Kollerer from Austria and Alexandros Jakupovic from Greece. The Austrian has become the first tennis player banned for life for attempting to fix at least three matches between October 2009 and July 2010.

In late November 2011, Kollerer applied to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to challenge the decision made by the ATP and the International Tennis Federation (ITF). However, the appeal was rejected in March 2012.

Jakupovic was banned for life in mid-December 2015 on five counts related to match-fixing.

Kollerer ranked 55th in the ATP rating in October 2009 while Jakupovic’s best result was the 464th position in the ATP rating in 2009.

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