Ban players who bet on own matches: Blake


Melbourne : The Association of Tennis Professional’s (ATP) player council vice-president, American James Blake believes a life ban would be appropriate for tennis players who are caught betting on their own games, the Australian media reported Sunday.

Support TwoCircles

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, Blake, who in his role in the player council has kept a close eye on the match-fixing issue, said the recent penalties given to three little-known players for betting on matches they were not involved in were “extremely harsh”.

Lowly ranked Alessio di Mauro received a nine-month suspension, Daniele Bracciali three months, and Potito Starace six weeks for betting on other players’ matches. Blake suggested that the ATP had made an example of those players.

“It’s been extremely harsh for what guys have done four or five years ago and didn’t seem to have an effect … I think the danger is if these guys start doing it now,” Blake was quoted as saying by the daily. “If it’s five years ago, you know, we hope they’ve learned and would never do it again. But to punish them so severely looks like they might be just looking to make an example of someone.”

“If anything comes recently, or on their own matches, or even on tournaments that they’re at, then that’s something we need to take extremely seriously. And that’s where the strict punishments should come in.”

Blake drew a distinction between players betting on their own matches and those they were not involved in, as the ATP does in its policy.

He also suggested less leniency was in order now that the issue had become a serious one for tennis.

“I think if someone was betting on their own matches, I would not be opposed to a lifetime ban,” he said. “Every situation may be different, so we have to have a tribunal … anything like that where it’s having an effect on matches, that’s something that could deserve a lifetime ban.”

Blake said he took the issue seriously because, as a game that pitted one player against another, tennis had the potential, like boxing, to be corrupted by gambling.

“I take it very seriously because this sport is so much gladiatorial where it’s one on one,” he said. “It is the danger of being a sport that could be fixed. It’s going to take so much to fix a football game because there’s so many players involved,” he said.