Reappointed ATP chief’s focus on integrity

Protecting the integrity of tennis in the wake of the recent match-fixing and doping scandals is the biggest challenge facing the sport over the next decade, ATP executive chairman Chris Kermode has said.

Kermode was appointed on Thursday for a second term in charge of men’s tennis, having taken over the role in January 2014.

It comes just days after the world of sport was rocked by the news that five-time grand slam winner Maria Sharapova had failed her drugs test at the Australian Open and as the sport deals with questions about match-fixing.

“I look forward to working with the other governing bodies of tennis to continue to protect the integrity of our sport,” Kermode said in a statement.

In an interview in The Times, Kermode added: “People have to believe what they are watching.

“More scandals would totally undermine our integrity. That is why we have the maximum incentive to catch athletes for breaking the rules.”

Tennis has been dogged by instances of doping violations, with Marin Cilic, Viktor Troicki and Barbora Strycova all receiving bans in the past few years.

The European Sport Security Association said in a report in February that tennis accounted for nearly three-quarters of all suspicious betting alerts issued last year, while men’s No.1 Novak Djokovic revealed in January that a member of his staff was approached about fixing a match early in his career.

Kermode said identifying cheats was a priority for the governing body, but called for perspective over the betting issue.

“It is also important to look at the numbers,” he said.

“There were more than 120,000 tennis matches last year; 99.8 per cent of those matches did not raise betting alerts.”

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