Copyright 2017 - Custom text here

John Whittingdale recently expressed his concerns about the Guardian’s revelations that international tennis umpires are facing life bans over betting scams. The news is that two umpires from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) have been banned because of gambling-related incidents. Four more umpires have been taken into questioning and are facing possible life bans. Corruption has always seeped in the sport and this is an active example of the same. The issue is are also expected to be added to the agenda for the prime minister’s anti-corruption summit which is round the corner.

Whittingdale said that it was “extremely concerning to hear that umpires – people who are in charge of ensuring fair play on the court – may have been involved in corrupt practices.” He was worried about the lack of transparency around cases such as these and it was of concern that this was not the first time the British media had uncovered what has happened.

He said he had spoken to the tennis authorities in recent weeks on the importance of good governance and transparency. The government is invested in helping to tackle corruption in sport and the issue will be on the agenda at the prime minister’s major anti-corruption summit later in the year.  

Sir Eric Pickles who has been recognised as the government’s 'anti-corruption champion', confirmed that dealing with international sports corruption, including the malaise at Fifa and the IAAF, will form a key plank of the agenda at the summit.

Among all others to be questioned regarding this, there are the tennis authorities which will undergo questioning by the parliamentary committee on and the questions asked will include why they kept sanctions secret against umpires who had been banned for betting offences

Damian Collins is the Tory MP who sits on the committee. He is also a longstanding campaigner on sports governance issues. He admitted that the news was a wake-up call for the sport, although it was not too much of a surprise because the sport was hopelessly under-resourced when it came to battling corruption. Collins added that the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) was only really accountable to other people in tennis. He admitted that they would do better with proper independent scrutiny. There had always been a denial regarding the scale of the problem. 

Collins also suggested the possibility of facilitating gambling on low-level tournaments. He said that tennis had come to become an extremely popular betting product and the proof was in the fact that ITF had just signed a $70m (£48.5m) deal with the data company Sportradar in order to give it access to live data, these odds were then then sold to betting companies.

It is believed that the four umpires under investigation delayed the input of scores by up to 60 seconds so that the gambling syndicates could place bets.

To this, Collins admitted that there needed to be much more scrutiny on whether we can bet on minor tournaments and events, and a review of in game betting as well.