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Last Updated: Friday, 11 January 2008, 17:11 GMT
Tennis steps up corruption fight
By Simon Austin

Etienne de Villiers
De Villiers is confident tennis can tackle corruption
The controversial match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello has "galvanised" tennis to tackle corruption, admits the head of the ATP.

The governing body of men's tennis is investigating last August's match because of irregular betting patterns.

"This incident raised the profile and made us all really look at this issue," Etienne de Villiers told BBC Sport.

"It raised the issue in the players' minds and galvanised the sport to move faster than we were moving."

He added: "We are now seeing a lot of the leading players saying to us 'do whatever you can. This is our livelihood, our sport. We have a responsibility to the sport and the fans and owe them honesty and integrity'."

The men's and women's tours have joined forces with the organisers of the four Grand Slams and the International Tennis Federation to announce a review of the sport's anti-corruption policies.

We have very exciting plans... but none of that will give us a payback if we can't say this sport is beyond reproach and has 100% integrity

Etienne de Villiers
ATP chief executive

De Villiers is optimistic that the review will recommend the setting up of an anti-corruption unit.

"I believe we need an anti-corruption unit, because we so highly treasure the integrity and honesty of our sport," he said.

"We've got to stay ahead of this threat and assume the threat is going to grow rather than subside."

De Villiers, who was appointed the executive chairman of the Association of Tennis Professionals in 2006, believes the game is taking all the steps it can to tackle corruption.

"We see this as a significant threat and saw it as a significant threat some time ago," he said.

"We were only the second sport to establish a memorandum of understanding with Betfair and have subsequently expanded that to another 13 online companies in order that we could gain access to information.

"We've introduced rules that require players within 48 hours of being approached or seeing others being approached to report that to us.

"When we have the facts, we will investigate. We will bring in outside investigators to help us and then use an independent anti-corruption hearing officer after that.

"We've gone one stage further and as an industry have decided to involve experts to look at our sport and give us an objective assessment of the nature of the threat."

606: DEBATE

De Villiers admits that corruption is one of the biggest threats currently facing tennis - and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

"The fact is that players are going to be approached," he said.

"You can't stop that, but what you can do is make players aware of their responsibilities."

He added it is vital that tennis wins the battle against corruption.

"We have very exciting plans we will be implementing over the course of this year, so in 2009 tennis will see a vast number of really, really exciting changes," he said.

"We will be injecting over a billion dollars of new capital and financial commitments to the sport.

"But none of that is going to give us a payback if we can't say to our fans that this sport is beyond reproach and has 100% integrity."



SEE ALSO
Tennis 'aware of fixing threat'
12 Oct 07 |  Tennis


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