The Tennis Integrity Unit’s Supervisory Board and the International Tennis Federation have agreed to a major new investment project to create a comprehensive integrity infrastructure for the ITF World Tennis Tour (WTT).
The move follows the recommendations of the the Independent Review Panel’s Final Report for implementation by tennis’ governing bodies to enhance the protection of integrity across professional tennis, at a time when concerns over match fixing and corruption have been on the rise, especially at the lower end of the tennis pyramid, where the ITF has responsibility.
Most prominently, the ITF will deliver new and improved anti-corruption protocols across the tour which will enable the progressive removal of live scoring data at all WTT $15,000 (€13,330) events, a key component of the IRP’s review.
ITF president David Haggerty said that “the scale of the project is unprecedented”, as plans were revealed to invest $8m into a series of integrity-related projects, with other measures to include: the introduction of accreditation and access control systems for WTT events; added security to deter unofficial data collection; the appointment of on-site integrity protection personnel and enhanced channels for the reporting of integrity concerns by players and officials.
The supply of live scoring data for WTT $15k matches has already been progressively reduced since December 2018 in collaboration with the ITF’s data and integrity partner, Sportradar. Up to 3,500 fewer matches will have been made available to betting markets in 2019 compared to 2018, with further reductions due to take place throughout 2020 and 2021, before a complete discontinuance of live scoring data at WTT $15,000 events.
Speaking exclusively to SportBusiness, Sportradar managing director of sports partnerships, David Lampitt, said that the measures taken so far had reduced corrupt activity in the sport overall by 50 per cent, and at ITF level by 60 per cent, over the first three quarters of 2019, according to TIU numbers.
“So of the things that have already been done, and the very proactive role that the ITF has taken in addressing this head on, has already seen some positive impact,” said Lampitt, who called for the sport as a whole to follow the ITF’s lead. “I think that the IRP itself focused a lot of its attention and recommendations around the lower level. But actually, these challenges are sport-wide and need to be addressed on a sport-wide basis.”
He also noted that data and analysis carried out by the IRP has shown “very clearly that matches at ITF level are not the most at risk of being corrupted or influenced by match fixing,” after a year in which the ITF has already begun to put measures in place to protect the integrity of its events. “Of course, they organise the highest volume, because they look after the base of the pyramid in professional tennis. So if you only look in absolute numbers, they have the highest numbers, but in terms of risk, they are not organising the most prone to corruption.”
Haggerty added: “Our commitment to protecting the integrity of the World Tennis Tour is paramount. 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 $15,000 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.”