Tennis in battle on match fixing
A blacklist of "undesirables" suspected of betting corruption in tennis has been handed to Wimbledon authorities before next week's tournament.
Wimbledon is expected to ban anybody named on the list from restricted areas, including the players' changing rooms, practice courts and restaurants.
A source suggested those on the list could have links to tennis players also under scrutiny because of betting irregularities in previous tournaments.
The ban comes amid growing concern over spot betting and match fixing. Last week, the first tennis professional ever to be convicted of match fixing was banned for life.
The list of names has been drawn up by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), an investigation team headed by a former Scotland Yard detective.
Insiders admit tennis has become fertile ground for corruption because of the explosion of spread betting. Gamblers can now bet on not only the outcome of matches but on specific events occurring during a match such as the number of double faults.
The list of people refused accreditation to Wimbledon is being kept secret but is understood to include individuals thrown up by the investigation into the Austrian Daniel Koellerer, a former world number 55, who was fined $100,000 (€70,000) and banned for life after being found guilty of three offences relating to match fixing between October 2009 and July 2010. He is planning to appeal.
There are now fears that with the rise in popularity of the sport in China -- Li Na won the French Open title two weeks ago, making her the first Chinese player to win a grand slam -- illegal activity could be spreading to the Far East where betting markets are largely unregulated.
A senior source said: "The Tennis Integrity Unit cannot prevent a member of the public buying a ground ticket to Wimbledon but it can strongly suggest to the authorities that there are certain people for whom it would be inappropriate to grant access to the inner sanctum, such as locker rooms and dining areas."
The source said the TIU had a database of information, including names of people suspected of involvement in tennis corruption.