ITF bans two umpires, to investigate four more over corruption charges

  • AFP, London
  • Updated: Feb 09, 2016 22:32 IST
Two tennis umpires were banned last year for breaches of the sport’s code of conduct for officials, the world governing body the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said on Tuesday. (Reuters Photo)

Two tennis umpires have been banned for corruption and four more are currently suspended while under investigation, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced on Tuesday.

Kirill Parfenov of Kazakhstan was banned for life in February 2015 for contacting another official in a bid to “manipulate the scoring of matches”, the ITF said in a joint-statement with the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU).

Croatia’s Denis Pitner was suspended for a year last August after passing on information about a player’s fitness to a coach and accessing a betting account that was used to place bets on tennis matches.

Confirming a story broken by the Guardian, the ITF and TIU said: “Kirill Parfenov of Kazakhstan was decertified for life in February 2015 for contacting another official on Facebook.

“Separately, Denis Pitner of Croatia had his certification suspended on 1 August 2015 for 12 months for sending information on the physical well-being of a player to a coach during a tournament and regularly logging on to a betting account from which bets were placed on tennis matches.”

The Guardian said that the offences related to matches in eastern Europe on the Futures Tour, which is the lowest level of professional tennis.

The story follows allegations about elite-level match-fixing made by the BBC and BuzzFeed shortly before the start of the Australian Open last month.

In response to those claims, an independent review into anti-corruption measures was announced, to be overseen by the TIU.

Explaining why Parfenov and Pitner’s bans had not previously been made public, the ITF and TIU said it was because they had been sanctioned under a code of conduct for officials that did not allow for public disclosure.

They said that future sanctions of a similar nature would be made public.

The ITF and TIU also confirmed that four other umpires have been suspended pending investigation by the TIU.

“In order to ensure no prejudice of any future hearing we cannot publicly disclose the nature or detail of those investigations,” the two organisations said.

“Should any official be found guilty of an offence, it will be announced publicly.”

The Guardian said that the accused umpires had delayed inputting scores on their tablet devices for up to a minute during matches they were overseeing, enabling gamblers to place bets knowing what had happened.

In some cases, it said the umpires were alleged to have texted the gamblers directly before updating the score.

Betting companies have been able to offer markets on low-level tournaments since the ITF signed a contract with data company Sportradar in 2012 to provide live scoring.

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