John Newcombe has warned tennis players targeted by match fixers of the perils of falling into the “steel trap” of gambling gangsters.
Newcombe, who has called for life bans for any player found to be involved in match fixing, said players needed to remain vigilant against corruption in the sport.
“The message I’d say, to young players especially, is that if you get involved with these people you’re in a steel trap – they won’t let you out,” he seven-times grand slam champion and former world No.1 said on Thursday.
“Once you make the mistake of agreeing to do something, they’ll hold it over you for the rest of your life.
“So don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
“Gambling is a fact of life … you can’t fight it, you’ve just got to try to control it as good as you can and keep drilling the message in to the players that they’re going to pay a huge penalty if they do anything (wrong).”
Newcombe added that he had “a question mark” over tournaments entering into sponsorship agreements with betting agencies, as Australian Open organisers have done for this year’s event.
Pat Cash, who was among the Australian tennis greats honoured with a personalised postage stamp on Thursday, agreed gambling sponsorship was a grey area.
But he felt that the storm of controversy caused by the BBC-Buzzfeed report alleging match fixing practices in the sport was out of kilter with the actual size of the issue.
“Tennis players are very clear that they’re not to be involved and I think this match fixing thing has been blown way out of proportion,” Cash said.
“It’s tarnished tennis the same as some cricket (issues) and boxing and wrestling … tennis is not like that – absolutely not.
“I’ve never heard of anything going on. There were some rumours many years ago and I think they’ve really tightened that up.
“I think it’s a bit of a storm in a teacup, but they do need to keep on top of it.”