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ITIA bans tennis official for 16 years over corruption charges

| By Robert Fletcher
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has banned Bulgarian official Stefan Milanov for 16 years after he was found guilty of a series of corruption offences.
ITIA tennis match fixing

Milanov was charged with 17 breaches of the ITIA Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP). His ban will run from the date of the decision (28 December 2023) until 27 December 2039. 

All charges are regarding five tennis matches that Milanov umpired in 2021.

Specific breaches identified by the ITIA include five related to Section D.1.b of the 2021 TACP. This covers directly or indirectly facilitating any other person to wager on the outcome or other aspect of an event.

Five breaches were also noted of Section D.1.m of the TACP – delaying or manipulating entry of scoring data from any event. A further five breaches related to Section D.1.n – directly or indirectly attempting, agreeing or conspiring to commit corruption offences.

The ITIA said the remaining two breaches regarded Section F.2.b of the 2023 TACP. This covers the failure to co-operate fully with investigations conducted by the ITIA. 

No response to ITIA charges

A national-level official, Milanov did not respond to the charges. As such, the ITIA said this meant he effectively admitted liability for all charges and acceded to sanctions.

The ban covers all and any tennis events authorised or sanctioned by the members of the ITIA. Milanov must also pay a fine of $75,000 (£58,982/€68,523).

Tennis ban follows earlier suspension for Milanov

The ban comes after Milanov previously served a six-month suspension for betting offences in 2022. He admitted to all breaches identified at the time by the ITIA.

Milanov placed multiple bets on tennis, including on one match where he was officiating. Section D.1.a of the 2022 TACP bars covered persons from betting on tennis competitions and events.

The six-month suspension ran from 15 November 2022 until 14 May 2023. The sanction also included a fine of $10,000, with $5,000 of this suspended.

ITIA takes further action over rule-breakers

This month, the ITIA also banned French tennis player Leny Mitjana after finding him guilty of corruption and match-fixing offences. Mitjana will serve a 10-year ban from the sport until December 2033.

The Frenchman, who held a career-high world singles ranking of 458 in 2018, denied all the charges.

The case was the latest to be linked to a concluded criminal case involving a match-fixing syndicate in Belgium. Syndicate leader Grigor Sargsyan was recently convicted and handed a five-year custodial sentence.

In total, the ITIA has banned 21 players and officials in the last three months over the same case.

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