The International Tennis Federation and Tennis Integrity Supervisory Board have moved swiftly following yesterday’s report that 135 players, including a “top 30 player” had been linked to an Armenian match fixing ring by agreeing plans for the removal of live data, and major integrity investment in the World Tennis Tour .
The major project will create a robust integrity infrastructure paving the way for removal of in-play scoring data at World Tennis Tour $15k events . Whilst this has been a lucrative revenue stream for the tennis authorities, the lower echelons of the sport have been a soft target for players struggling to survive on the tennis circuit and becoming enticed into match “spot fixing”
The TIU Supervisory Board and the ITF have agreed a major investment project to create a comprehensive integrity infrastructure for the ITF World Tennis Tour Critically, the ITF will deliver new and improved anti-corruption protocols across the tour which will enable the progressive removal of live scoring data to be implemented at all WTT $15k events.
Removal of live data at $15k events was one of the seven interrelated measures proposed by the Independent Review Panel’s Final Report for implementation by tennis’ governing bodies to enhance the protection of integrity across professional tennis.
The scale and reach of the project are unprecedented, with the WTT comprising more than 1,000 events played in over 500 locations in 80 nations throughout the year.
The ITF plans represent an $8 million investment into a series of integrity-related projects covering the following key areas:-
- introduction of accreditation and access control systems for WTT events
- video recording
- added security to deter unofficial data collection
- appointment of on-site integrity protection personnel
- enhanced channels for the reporting of integrity concerns by players and officials
Concurrently with this substantial investment in tournament infrastructure, the ITF is also prioritising the creation of more $25k events to provide a balanced calendar and to deter unofficial data collection at events for which live scoring data have been discontinued.
The delivery of live scores data for WTT $15k matches has already been progressively reduced since December 2018.
Further reductions will continue in 2020 and 2021, culminating in complete discontinuance of live scoring availability at WTT $15k events, once all integrity protection measures are in place.
This project will supplement other integrity-protection measures that are already being taken, including comprehensive monitoring of the betting market on ITF events, which is shared with the TIU, and ongoing stakeholder engagement with data suppliers and betting operators.
“Our commitment to protecting the integrity of the World Tennis Tour is paramount,” said ITF President David Haggerty.
“The comprehensive package of measures we have agreed with both the ITF Board and the Tennis Integrity Supervisory Board go beyond the Independent Review Panel’s (IRP) recommendations for removing the supply of live scoring data at WTT $15k events.
This is a programme that looks holistically at all aspects of integrity across the full World Tennis Tour calendar. We have also collaborated with the leading organisations representing the regulated betting industry to ensure the recommendations are implemented with support from all stakeholders.”
Haggerty added, “The scale of this project is unprecedented. We are confident that it will deliver real benefits for all participants and will contribute to the trend of reducing corruption risk seen in 2019.”
Jennie Price, the independent Chair of the Tennis Integrity Supervisory Board, said: “The IRP’s recommendation for removing official live scoring data at World Tennis Tour $15k events was an important measure and has been one of the Board’s earliest priorities.
“Detailed work on implementation of the recommendation has made it clear how important it will be to ensure that official data is not simply replaced by unofficial data.
“The enhanced security and accreditation processes planned by the ITF are essential to ensure that the playing environment is properly protected and the opportunities for unofficial data collection are minimised.
“The Supervisory Board supports this comprehensive set of measures to remove live data from the $15K tournaments and will continue to work closely with the ITF throughout the implementation process.”
The Tennis Integrity Supervisory Board consists of five independent members: Jennie Price CBE(Chair), Sir Philip Craven, Avril Martindale, Sal Perna AM and Bob Harayda, and senior representatives from the four International Governing Bodies of tennis; Mark Young, ATP, Steve Simon, WTA, David Haggerty, ITF and Philip Brook CBE, Grand Slam Board.