Representatives from the top governing bodies in tennis have announced a review into the sport that will "examine all aspects" of its anti-corruption program.
In the wake of a series of damaging reports on alleged match-fixing through professional tennis -- sparked by a joint BBC and Buzzfeed News report and furthered by a Four Corners report that named a player competing in the Australian Open on an alleged 'blacklist' of suspicious players -- tennis officials have tried to get back on the front foot by announcing a review into any misconduct in the sport.
Executive Chairman of the Association of Tennis Professionals and Tennis Integrity Board Chris Kermode, ATP Chairman Geraldine Hogarth and Chairman of Wimbledon Phillip Brooke fronted media in Melbourne on Wednesday morning, with the Australian Open coming to the pointy end of the tournament, to announce an extensive review into the sport.
Brooke said the review would investigate "the tennis anti-corruption program, including the Tennis Integrity Unit... aimed at further safe guarding the integrity of the game," admitting the scandal had "caused damage to our sport."
"This is an important decision which has been taken with the full backing of tennis' leadership. The results of the review will be published and tennis has committed to implement all of the recommendations of the review and to fund them in full," he said.
"It is vital that we repair this damage and that we do so quickly."
Kermode called the review "unprecedented" and "with the sole aim to restore public confidence in our sport".
"This will be an open review, nothing is off the table. Adam Lewis QC and the review panel can look at anything, they can talk to anyone, investigate anything, and the four important points are there is no deadline to this review, it will take as long as is needed. It will cost what it costs. The results will be made public and they will be published and the most important point is that we have committed to act on every recommendation," he said.
The officials appeared to downplay the reports emerging in media about specific players allegedly linked to match-fixing, saying the allegations were not "anything new".
"Personally, I think it's irresponsible for anyone to publish names, verging on libel and we believe any player, until they are proven guilty, should be allowed to play and shouldn't have their reputation damaged at all. So as I said, the lists purely come from irregular betting patterns and that is not evident," Kermode said.
Brooke said he was "disappointed in the program," and also denied the sport's governing bodies had been too tardy in addressing allegations of match-fixing.
"I think what the events of the last few days have shown us, however, is that we are in a changed world. Sport is under the microscope more and more," he said.
"The integrity of sport in general is under the microscope and we have to reassure everybody in our sport, watching our sport, that integrity is absolutely the top of our pile of things to do."
The officials praised the work of the sport's integrity unit, pointing out that it had made 18 convictions and handed down six life bans.Suggest a correction