Sports integrity

Bulgarian brothers banned by Tennis Integrity Unit for betting and match-fixing

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Two Bulgarian tennis players - brothers Karen and Yuri Khachatryan - have received lifetime and 10-year bans respectively from the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) after being convicted of a number of corruption, betting and match-fixing offences.

Karen Khachatryan, ranked 2,514th in the International Tennis Futures (ITF) world rankings, was found guilty of five cases of match fixing, nine cases of soliciting other players not to use best efforts and a repeated failure to cooperate with the TIU’s investigation.

As a result, he is banned from participating in any events recognised by tennis’s governing bodies and must pay a $250,000 fine. He had already been provisionally suspended since the investigation was launched in June 2019.

His younger brother Yuri, 3,126th in the ITF rankings, was found to have made “corrupt approaches” to another player, delaying in complying with the TIU’s investigation, providing devices with which he had tampered to the TIU, bet on tennis and facilitated other people’s gambling on tennis.

Yuri Khachatryan will receive a 10-year ban and a $50,000 fine.

Both players’ offenses were in violation of Section D of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme, which – among other things – forbids “solicit[ing] or facilitat[ing] any other person to wager” on tennis, “attempt[ing] to contrive the outcome” of a tennis match, soliciting a player to not use their best effort or offering a player money or benefits to not use their best efforts.

The players were also in violation of Section F of the programme, which says that players must cooperate with TIU investigations.

The TIU is set to rebrand as the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) on 1 January 2021. The ITIA will take charge of betting integrity enforcement in tennis in 2021 and add doping under its jurisdiction in 2022.

Last month, the TIU appointed Ben Rutherford, who is currently legal counsel and integrity unit manager at World Rugby, as its new senior legal director.

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