Re: French Scandal: Itf Investigation
Fresh fears about the integrity of professional tennis surfaced last night as officials at the French Open launched an investigation into allegations over the result of a first-round match in the women's doubles.
Japanese player Akiko Morigami claimed that one of her country's national coaches told her before she partnered her compatriot Aiko Nakamura: 'I hope you lose.'
The Japanese pair duly lost to Yung-Jan Chan and Chia-Jung Chuang, from Taipei, 6-0, 6-1, and Nakamura then left for England, where she will be No 2 seed at the pre-Wimbledon grasscourt tournament beginning at Surbiton tomorrow.
After her defeat, Morigami complained that she had been badly affected by the approach from the coach, who cannot be named while the investigation is undertaken.
'I was shocked and my motivation Officials from the International Tennis Federation, who manage Grand Slam championships, and the Women's Tennis Association are treating the allegation made by Morigami as a potential breach of new rules introduced in a bid to preserve the integrity of the game, which has suffered through claims of matches being stage-managed for the purposes of betting.
There is no suggestion that betting was involved in this latest scandal but last night the ITF confirmed in a statement:
'The ITF take this allegation very seriously and, with the Grand Slams and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, have zero tolerance for any attempt to influence the outcome of a match. We will defer, for the present time, to the Roland Garros referee and the Grand Slam supervisors, who will investigate this claim.'
Nakamura, currently ranked No 73 in the world, stood to gain tives, Ben Gunn and Jeff Rees, were hired by tennis officials to report on the state of the game after betting companies highlighted concern with gambling patterns on some matches. In all, 73 matches came under investigation. Belgian player Gilles Elseneer said he was offered - and turned down - more than $100,000 to lose a first-round match against Potito Starace, of Italy, at Wimbledon in 2005.
The Gunn-Rees review reported: 'There are strong intelligence indications that some players are vulnerable to corrupt approaches and there are people outside tennis who seek to corrupt those within the sport.'
In February, French Open officials attempted to ban on-line gambling companies from offering bets on the Grand Slam tournament, but last month a Belgian court ruled in favour of the betting companies.