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ITIA bans more tennis players for match-fixing

| By Robert Fletcher
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has sanctioned a further five players for their role in a match-fixing syndicate in Belgium.
ITIA Tennis match fixing

All players breached the ITIA Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP) in relation to match-fixing. Each player will now serve a lengthy ban, with two individuals given life bans.

Alberto Rojas Maldonado, Christopher Díaz Figueroa, José Antonio Rodríguez Rodríguez, Antonio Ruiz Rosales and Orlando Alcántara Rangel will serve bans. 

The case relates to a Belgian match-fixing syndicate led by Grigor Sargsyan. The recent criminal case led to the conviction of Sargsyan, who was handed a five-year custodial sentence. This followed a joint effort between the ITIA and Belgian authorities.

Sargsyan has reportedly traversed the globe since 2018 to build a network of over 180 professional players across five continents. The Washington Post described him as “the man who built the biggest match-fixing ring in tennis”.

Life bans for tennis match-fixing

Breaking down each sanction, Mexican Maldonado has a life-time ban from tennis and will pay a $250,000 (£201,895/€230,678) fine. Maldonado committed 92 breaches of the TACP, the second-highest number of breaches for one individual, and was found to have played a pivotal role in the corruption of other players. He reached a career-high ATP singles ranking of 992 in 2015.

Guatemalan Figueroa has also received a life-time ban and a $75,000 fine for 13 TACP breaches. Figueroa, whose career-high 326 ranking came in 2011, previously served a three-year suspension for match-fixing.

Elsewhere, Mexico’s Rodríguez breached the TACP on eight occasions. His suspension runs for 12 years and he will also pay $25,001. Rodríguez has a career-high singles ranking of 1,367, which came in 2017.

Also from Mexico, Rosales will serve a 10-year ban and pay a $30,000 fine for seven breaches of the TACP. He reached a career-high ATP singles ranking of 652 in 2008.

Finally, Rangel, another Mexican, has been given a two-year suspension and $10,000 fine. This is in response to two breaches of the TACP. Rangel’s highest ATP singles ranking was 1,735 in 2015.

Suspended players cannot play in, coach at, or attend any tennis event sanctioned by the members of the ITIA. These include the ATP, ITF, WTA, Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open, or national associations.

Belgian players banned for match-fixing

The latest round of suspensions comes after the ITIA earlier this month also banned seven Belgian players after a court ruled they were involved with the same match-fixing syndicate.

Players included Arnaud Graisse, Arthur de Greef, Julien Dubail, Romain Barbosa, Maxime Authom, Omar Salman and Alec Witmeur.

Three of the players – Witmeur, de Greef and Barbosa – have been provisionally suspended since May 2021.

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