The Tennis Integrity Unit’s (TIU) recently published annual report for 2019 has revealed that the 138 alerts received throughout the year is the lowest since reporting began in 2015.

The figure sees a near 48% decrease when compared to that of 2018 and marks a sustained reduction in suspicious matches reported across the year with each of the quarterly figures for 2019 also registering the lowest scores when compared to the match alerts statistics for every other year. 

A combination of different factors have contributed to this decline including the deterrent effect of regular player sanctions by the TIU as well as the arrests and in some cases detention of tennis players in Europe by law enforcement agencies investigating cases of alleged match-fixing in Belgium, Spain and France. 

Confidential Memorandums of Understanding held with regulated betting operators and data providers announced throughout the year have also contributed to the downturn in alerts. 

Nigel Willerton, Director of the TIU, commented: “2019 was another year of growth and development for the TIU. From an operational perspective the year was notable for a marked decline in the number of match alerts received from the regulated gambling sector. 

“The 2019 total of 138 alerts is the lowest since public reporting began in 2015 and is almost 48% lower than the total for 2018. While it is encouraging that fewer suspect matches were identified, there can be no room for complacency, particularly as the many other forms of intelligence gathered by the TIU continue to show frequent instances of attempted and actual corrupt activity, predominantly at the lower levels of the sport. 

“Throughout the year we worked closely to support the substantial police operations in Belgium, France and Spain involving tennis players, which were originally initiated by information supplied by the TIU. Once these investigations and criminal cases are complete, the TIU will be in a position to bring charges under tennis anti-corruption rules against those who have been implicated.”

As well as this, the report also highlighted the key targets that the TIU’s education programme aims to achieve in 2020 which will result in an increased presence at tournaments in an attempt to reach greater numbers of lower ranked players on the ITF World Tennis Tour and ATP Challenger Tour. 

Moreover, the Unit aims to deliver increase ‘face-to-face’ education to both players and officials and it is also set to introduce a new contact form for the TIU app and website in order to improve the quality of reporting for integrity concerns and corrupt approaches. 

Jennie Price CBE, Independent Chair of the Tennis Integrity Supervisory Board, concluded: “2020 will bring fresh challenges. Betting in sport continues to grow, with new markets opening up in the US and online gambling increasing. It is an Olympic and Paralympic year, putting the fight against doping in an even brighter spotlight. With more resources, more independence and a continued commitment to excellence, the TIU and the Board is determined – and well equipped – to respond.”