Tennis leaders reveal details of corruption probe

The International Tennis Federation says Uzbekistan umpires Sherzod Hasanov and Arkhip Molotyagin have been banned for life. (Ben Curtis/AP)

LONDON — The independent investigation into allegations of match-fixing and corruption in tennis will take at least a year, the sport’s four governing bodies said Friday.

Tennis leaders set out the terms of the probe, saying an independent review panel "will investigate thoroughly the allegations of corruption in international professional tennis and the effectiveness of existing anti-corruption practices and procedures."

The review was announced during last month’s Australian Open in the wake of media allegations that officials had failed to properly investigate suspected cases of match-fixing.

The ATP, WTA, ITF and Grand Slam Board said the independent panel will look into the work of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program, the Tennis Integrity Unit and Tennis Integrity Protection Program, and recommend any changes.

The three-person panel will be headed by Adam Lewis, with the two other members to be named by the end of the month.

The International Tennis Federation said, while there is no fixed deadline, the panel is expected to take at least 12 months to complete the probe. An interim report will be released during that period.

The ITF said the panel will have "wide powers," including the right to require the turning over of documents, carry out interviews and appoint experts. The panel's work will extend to bodies outside of tennis, including international and state organizations, law enforcement agencies and betting operators.

The probe's aim is to maintain the integrity of tennis, " protect against any improper efforts to impact improperly the results of any match," and establish uniform rules, enforcement and sanctions, according to the terms of reference and protocols.

The opening week of the Australian Open was overshadowed by reports from the BBC and BuzzFeed News alleging that tennis authorities had suppressed evidence of match-fixing and failed to thoroughly investigate possible cases of corruption involving 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 over the past decade. No players were named in the reports.

In a separate development, the ITF confirmed earlier this week that two tennis umpires had been banned and four others put under investigation for corruption. The sanctions were confirmed in response to a story published by The Guardian.

Kirill Parfenov of Kazakhstan was banned for life in February 2015 for using Facebook to contact another official in an "attempt to manipulate the scoring of matches," the ITF said in a statement.

Denis Pitner of Croatia was suspended for a year in August after passing on details on the "physical well-being of a player to a coach during a tournament and regularly logging on to a betting account from which bets were placed on tennis matches," the ITF said.

Four other unidentified officials were suspended while investigations continue into their conduct.