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Last Updated: Monday, 24 September 2007, 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK
Henman raises tennis betting fear
Tim Henman
Henman says he was never approached about betting
Tim Henman has raised concerns that betting in tennis is endangering the integrity of the sport.

Former world number four Henman told BBC One's Inside Sport he has heard on the grapevine of players being asked to influence the outcome of matches.

"I personally have never experienced it but, listening to the players talking, it seems it goes on," said the Briton.

"We've got to be very careful, very vigilant about it as tennis doesn't want to be associated with that."

In August, ATP chiefs launched a probe into betting in tennis in the wake of a gambling scandal surrounding Nikolay Davydenko's recent defeat by Martin Vassallo Arguello.

World number four Davydenko withdrew from the match in Poland in August when losing 2-6 6-3 2-1 because of injury.

It is important that we not jump to conclusions, especially when players' reputations could be unfairly tainted

Etienne de Villiers
ATP chairman

Online betting exchange Betfair reported concerns of irregular gambling patterns to the ATP, the governing body of men's tennis.

Davydenko, who denies any involvement, will be questioned by ATP investigators in October.

Etienne de Villiers, the chairman of the ATP, said in a statement: "All professional sport needs a level playing field in order to maintain its appeal and integrity.

"The ATP therefore treat any form of corruption extraordinarily seriously and we have established rigorous procedures and programmes; and severe penalties.

"With regards to the recent match involving Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello, we have instigated a full ATP investigation.

"That said, it is important that we not jump to conclusions, especially when players' reputations could be unfairly tainted."

Without referring to that investigation, four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Henman added: "There has been some pretty serious accusations in the tennis world and I, for one, will be interested to see what comes out of it.

"No-one has ever approached me. I obviously wasn't the right material.

People have always bet on tennis but the magnitude seems like it has increased

Tim Henman

"It's an easy target because it's a two-horse race and there is a lot going on. You talk about a Grand Slam - there are 64 men's matches and 64 women's matches from the first round and there is a lot that can be bet on.

And Henman called on the tennis authorities to impose stringent sanctions on players if they are found to have been involved in betting irregularities.

"We have to be sure from a player's point of view that anyone who is involved shouldn't be allowed back in the game for good," he stated.

Henman, the former British number one, added: "People have always bet on tennis but the magnitude seems like it has increased, certainly in the last few years.

"But in some respects it's because tennis is so popular. That is surely a good thing - that so many people are interested in it - but if gambling is encroaching on the playing side then that is something we've got to manage very carefully."

Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper also believes there is a problem with betting in tennis.

"I think we would be looking at the world through rose-tinted spectacles if we thought it didn't go on," he said. "I think the way it's going it's becoming as big an issue in sport as doping.

"I think most of the sports are hooked on to it. Sport is the second fastest growing sector of the economy at the moment - and the biggest growth area is betting.

"So we have to keep our eyes open, our ears to the ground and work with the betting companies rather than just ignore the problem and think it's going to go away. It isn't going to go away."

INSIDE SPORT ON THE BBC

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SEE ALSO
Davydenko faces betting inquiry
27 Aug 07 |  Tennis
Youngsters lack desire - Henman
17 Sep 07 |  Tennis
Players launch new gambling code
20 Aug 07 |  Sport Homepage


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