American tennis player James Blake has been fined for breaking International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) betting sponsorship rules. 

The former world number four has been issued a fine of $56,250 with a further suspended fine of $131,250 and a ban of 18 months after fully cooperating with the tennis authority and did not contest the charge. 

Due to Blake being a Tournament Director for the Miami Open, which categorises him as a ‘Covered Person’, it is deemed that he had involvement in the encouragement or promotion of betting operators within the sport. 

The TACP rules state that: “No Covered Person shall directly or indirectly, facilitate, encourage and/or promote Tennis Betting (‘Facilitation’).”

Karen Moorhouse, CEO of the ITIA, commented: “Across our members – the ATP, WTA, ITF and Grand Slams – the rules prohibit accredited individuals from having commercial relationships with betting companies.

“This case is more a matter of perception, rather than corruption. The rules apply to players, coaches, officials and accredited tournament staff – who all have the ability to influence results or have access to inside information.

“We urge anyone in the sport who is unclear or is considering commercial deals like this to get in touch with us to seek guidance.”

Whilst Blake will now be suspended from his duties for the next 18 months, the ITIA acknowledges that the violation was unintentional, which may have helped alleviate a potentially lengthier suspension. 

The ITIA has noted that additional fines and suspension will not come into force unless there is a further breach of rules during the 18-month period, which started on 9 February.

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