Wimbledon among tennis bodies facing bill of more than ￡1m from delays to match-fixing inquiry
- Independent commission was formed to look into match fixing two years ago?
- Tennis is facing total bill of around ￡10million as inquiry keeps dragging on
- Wimbledon is among bodies frustrated by continuous delays to process
- Many informed observers think fight against doping is more pertinent problem?
Wimbledon is among the tennis bodies expecting to be nursing a bill of more than ￡1 million each from tennis's long running inquiry into match fixing.
Frustration is growing within the game's corridors of power about postponements to its publication, and the spiralling costs of the independent commission, whose work is not far off going into a third year.
The sport is footing a bill reliably said to be in excess of ￡10million so far as the Independent Review Panel report keeps getting put back from its scheduled release dates. Time has stretched on from its originally hoped-for publication in the middle of this summer.?
Wimbledon is among the tennis bodies frustrated to delays in the match-fixing inquiry
The latest deadline came and went late last month, and while it is hoped to publish before Christmas there are fears its emergence might not be until next year and could even clash with the start of the season in Australia and the Open in Melbourne.
Sportsmail understands that much of the delay is being caused by some sharp criticism contained within of several individuals and organisation and the resulting 'Maxwellisation'.
This is the legal process whereby parties who have been criticised in a report are given the opportunity to defend themselves and press their argument before findings are made public. It is most associated with the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, but its effects have also been seen, on a smaller scale, on probes into cycling.
In this case the criticism is believed to especially relate to parties involved in the initial response to match fixing in tennis after reports began to emerge in the mid-to-late Noughties that the sport had a problem.
It was at the season's opening Grand Slam nearly two years ago that the game's various governing bodies, in a rare show of unity, decided to appoint an independent panel to look at the issue of match-fixing following a news report by Buzzfeed and the BBC.
Convened under the leadership of London QC Adam Lewis, a team of lawyers has been looking at the whole issue, which goes back more than a decade and coincided with the explosion of online gambling.
A blank cheque and pledge to act on recommendations was given to Lewis by the seven constituencies sharing the cost: each of the four Grand Slams, the WTA (Women's Tennis Association), ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and ITF (International Tennis Federation).
It is proving a very expensive business, and Wimbledon is known to be among those whose frustration is mounting. British tennis will feel a knock on effect as the Lawn Tennis Association is handed the surplus money made from The Championships each year.
While not not a huge percentage of the ￡30million-plus profits the LTA receive, a spokesperson for the All England Club confirmed yesterday that payments to the inquiry will come off the bottom line involved with the running of the tournament.
The IRP says that in the wide scope of its inquiry it has interviewed more than 100 different individuals within the game and more than fifty entities from outside it.
The sense of antagonism within the Slams partly stems from the fact that in recent years it has been repeatedly shown - from figures regularly made public about basic betting alerts via bookmakers worldwide - that the large majority of the problem exists on the lower tiers of the tour, away from the biggest events and the top 100 players.
Some of the allegations in the Buzzfeed report made may have been recycled or speculative, but at the time their presentation caused a furore that demanded action had to be taken.
That there remains an issue at the Challenger tier of the game and, particularly, the far flung, impoverished, bottom rung Futures level, is beyond dispute.
The game's authorities have already made moves to try and combat this with plans for a 'Transition Tour' to feed into the lowest level of the professional game, although not all details are clear. A ballpark ambition is that the number of ranked players of either sex should be reduced to around 500 to 750, more reflecting those who are truly making a living from the sport. Something along those lines is expected to emerge.
Sportsmail understands that a more far-reaching idea which the IRP has looked at very closely involves merging the anti-corruption Tennis Integrity Unit and tennis's anti-doping programme into one overall, totally independent body to improve the safeguarding of integrity. Initial preparations for that potential eventuality are already said to be in motion.
Many informed observers will feel that doping, the fight against which is still underfunded to the tune of barely ￡3million annually, is now the greater threat to tennis from top to bottom than match-fixing, which these days seems to exist more in what is, effectively, a largely amateur level of the sport.?
The independent commission have repeatedly missed deadlines in announcing findings
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