An independent panel concluded yesterday that 45 professional tennis matches from the past 5 years require further review because of suspicious betting patterns. The International Tennis Federation, the ATP, the WTA Tour and the four Grand Slams published the findings of the panel in a 66-page report.
The review said while "professional tennis is neither institutionally nor systematically corrupt, it is potentially at a crossroads."
The review said it had examined 73 matches over the past 5 years, and 45 remain under suspicion "from a betting perspective."
"We do not doubt that criminal elements may be involved in seeking to subvert or corrupt some players or players' support staff; that may even involve organized criminal gangs, but to elevate that suspicion to a claim of 'Mafia' involvement is, in our view, a distortion of the facts and is positively damaging to the sport," the report said.
The review was prompted by a series of events connected to gambling in tennis. Most prominently, an online betting site, in an unprecedented move, voided all bets on a match involving Nikolay Davydenko last year because of suspicious gambling patterns. The fourth-ranked Russian withdrew against 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello in the third set of a match in Poland, citing a foot injury.
Since the Davydenko match, others have said they have been approached by outsiders trying to influence a match. Belgian player Gilles Elseneer said he was offered - and turned down - more than $100,000 to lose a first-round match against Potito Starace of Italy at Wimbledon in 2005. Five players, all Italians, have been fined or suspended for betting on tennis.
In other tennis news:
* Andy Roddick withdrew from the French Open, which starts next week, because of a right shoulder injury. He hopes to be ready for Wimbledon.
* The United States beat the Czech Republic, 2-1, at the World Team Cup in Duesseldorf, Germany, despite using another doubles team because of an undisclosed injury to top-ranked Bob and Mike Bryan. The Bryan brothers were replaced by James Blake and Wayne Odesnik, who rallied past Tomas Berdych and Pavel Vizner, 0-6, 7-5, 10-8.
* Olympic 10,000-meter champion Xing Huina, of China, has a thigh injury that will prevent her from defending her title at the Beijing Games.
* Jury selection is under way in San Francisco in the trial of elite track coach Trevor Graham, who is accused of lying to investigators probing steroids in sports.
* Canadian wheelchair racer Jeff Adams, a six-time world champion, was cleared by the highest tribunal of sports after testing positive for cocaine, his lawyer said. Adams was suspended for 2 years for his failed drug test at the 2006 Canadian wheelchair marathon championships. He contended the drug got into his system involuntarily and he was the victim of a contaminated catheter.
* Jason Parker and Keith Sanderson qualified for the Beijing Olympics in three-position rifle and rapid-fire pistol at the U.S. shooting trials in Fort Benning, Ga.
* Tiger Woods, who is recovering from left knee surgery in mid-April, intends to play in this year's Buick Open the last week of June.
* The family of a New Jersey boy who suffered brain damage after being struck in the chest by a line drive off a metal bat while playing baseball filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the bat, the store that sold it, and against Little League Baseball for giving the bat its seal of approval. The family of Steven Domalewski, who was 12 at the time of the June 2006 incident, filed the lawsuit in state Superior Court in Passaic County. It names Hillerich & Bradsby Co., maker of the 31-inch, 19-ounce Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum bat that hit the line drive that crippled Domalewski. The suit also names Little League Baseball and the Sports Authority, which sold the bat.
* Guard Tony Freeman, Iowa's leading scorer last season, is transferring to Southern Illinois.