Online Gambling on Tennis in Check

Published Wednesday, May 27, 2009 -

First-round winner tennis player Mathieu Montcourt has brought his lawyer, to the French Open. Montcourt admits over three months in 2005, a fledgling professional, he placed a few small bets online, 36 to be precise, on players he admired, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and others. The young Montcourt also bet on football and Formula One.

Gambling online was the latest trend, "lots of people were talking about it within tennis," Montcourt said. "I never bet on myself," "It was just a bit of fun and, since I was injured at the time, I wanted to keep in touch with sports and this was a way for me to do that." he added. When he did this however it was a clear violation of the rules set down for tennis professionals.

Laure Heinich-Luijer his lawyer took his cause to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, asking the court to find compassion for the young player and cut him some slack. Her efforts were in vain when the court ruled Montcourt must serve a five-week ban and pay a $12,000 fine.

Two former senior British police officers, Ben Gunn and Jeff Rees conducted an investigation into tennis and concluded that tennis is "not institutionally or systematically corrupt." adding, "A large majority of current and former players we interviewed claimed to know of approaches to players being invited to throw matches presumably for corrupt betting purposes. Only one player admitted being directly approached several years ago."

Bill Babcock, Grand Slams and tournament chief for tennis' governing body, the ITF says, "It only takes a conspiracy of one," "It's a sport that lends itself to trouble if you're lax at all."

John Leicester an international sports columnist for The Associated Press points out that the new Tennis Integrity Unit not only reiterates zero tolerance for gambling and match-fixing, but also obliges players to quickly report bribery approaches or any other corrupt activity that's even suspicious. The betting ban extends not only to players but also to their associates and families.

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