Three Tennis Umpires Receive Lifetime Bans for Gambling on Matches They Officiated

Posted on: October 9, 2018, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: October 9, 2018, 09:01h.

Three tennis chair umpires have received lifetime bans on officiating or attending any professional tennis event after each admitted to gambling on games they presided over in 2017.

tennis umpire sports betting scandal
Serena Williams has been known to take issue with chair umpires during her tennis matches. (Image: Greg Allen/AP)

The International Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) announced the lifetime bans for Thailand officials Anucha Tongplew, Apisit Promchai, and Chitchai Srililai. The TIU said in a statement that each former referee admitted to match-fixing and gambling on ITF Futures tournaments they officiated.

The lifetime bans apply with immediate effect and prohibit each individual from ever officiating at, or attending, any sanctioned events organized or recognized by the governing bodies of the sport,” the TIU explained.

The ITF Circuit is a tour for lower-ranked players who are climbing the professional ladder. Nearly every pro has played on the Futures.

The TIU is tennis’ anti-corruption body covering all professional events around the world. It is funded by the International Tennis Federation, ATP, WTA, Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open.

Tennis Errors

The sport might not attract the same amount of betting in the US that say football does, but tennis is said to be ripe with corruption when it comes to match-fixing. Unlike the four major professional sports in America, in tennis, one rogue player has the power to completely decide the outcome of a match.

The Independent Review of Integrity in Tennis, a more than two-year study that cost $28 million to produce, found that tennis was “responsible for more suspicious betting than any other sport.” Scandals and alleged match-fixing routinely make headlines, and it isn’t just at lower-level tournaments but also the majors.

At the 2018 Wimbledon Championships in July, a first-round doubles match was flagged for suspicious betting. Online sportsbook Pinnacle notified Wimbledon after dubious activity came in on the match between Joao Sousa and Leonardo Mayer versus David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco.

Marrero and Verdasco opened as the favorites, but roughly an hour before the match, Sousa and Mayer emerged with the shortest odds. A flurry of activity forced the Pinnacle sportsbook to further shorten the Sousa/Mayer line.

The TIU is likely investigating, but doesn’t comment publicly on its operations.

At the US Open in August, Ukrainian pro Alexandr Dolgopolov dismissed allegations that he threw his match a week earlier at the Winston-Salem Open. Dolgopolov, then ranked No. 64 in the world, was defeated in straight sets by the No. 113th-ranked player.

In 2015, Argentinian player Nicolas Kicker was kicked out of the sport with a six-year ban after being found to have fixed two matches on the ATP tour in 2015.

Bad Days Happen

Dolgopolov, who was defeated in just 55 minutes and never even had a single break point, said he just didn’t play well at the Winston-Salem Open. Other tennis players report being lambasted online when they fail to beat an opponent they’re expected to top.

American Madison Keys, currently No. 18 in the world, says she’s received threats on social media following losses. “The amount of abuse we get after losing a match is ridiculous,” the star said last year.