Sadly, another sport is being stained with the taint of cheating allegations. As the Australian Open gets underway, news that men’s tennis star Novak Djokovic was offered $200k to throw a match is creating more questions on the tour. Who else has been offered money, and which players have taken the payment? Djokovic says that he turned down the payoff, but others must have said yes.
According to ESPN, Djokovic does not want to be tied to the idea of cheating, but also wanted people to know that this is going on.
“I was approached through people that were working with me at that time,” he said, making clear that the offer was flat-out rejected. He didn’t even attend the tournament, but he said he still didn’t like the fact that someone even bothered to consider him for such a thing.
Djokovic wants to be clear that there is no place for this activity in any sport, and certainly not tennis.
“It made me feel terrible because I don’t want to be anyhow linked to this kind of — you know, somebody may call it an opportunity,” he said. “For me, that’s an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport honestly. I don’t support it. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis.”
There is allegedly 16 suspected players in the top 50 involved in the match fixing.
“I would love to hear names,” Roger Federer said. “Then at least it’s concrete stuff and you can actually debate about it. Was it the player? Was it the support team? Who was it? Was it before? Was it a doubles player, a singles player? Which slam? It’s so all over the place. It’s nonsense to answer something that is pure speculation. Like I said, it’s super serious and it’s super important to maintain the integrity of our sport. So how high up does it go?”
On the women’s tour, Serena Williams said she is not aware of any of this activity going on.
“I can only answer for me. I play very hard, and every player I play seems to play hard,” she said. “I think that as an athlete, I do everything I can to be not only great, but historic. If that’s going on, I don’t know about it. You know, I’m kind of sometimes in a little bit of a bubble.”
Huffington Sports is also abuzz with talk about thrown tennis matches. Djokovic said the activity is criminal.
“For me, that’s an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport, honestly.”
There are also reports that the evidence has been pushed aside.
“The Tennis Integrity Unit and tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason or isn’t being thoroughly investigated,” said head of the Association of Professional Tennis Players Chris Kermode.
But now that cheating in tennis is such a major topic, Djokovic has started backpedaling, and saying that he is sure cheating is not prevalent in his chosen sport, according to the BBC.
“It’s just speculation,” said the Serb 10-time Grand Slam champion.
But there are secret files that have now been seen by the press, and so the topic will need to be addressed.
“All credible information received by the TIU is analysed, assessed and investigated by highly experienced former law-enforcement investigators,” he said.
So now, it will be decided if this is a criminal investigation.
Do you think some of the top players in tennis are on the take?
[Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images]