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ITIA hands lifetime bans to two Russian tennis players

| By Robert Fletcher
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), the independent organisation formerly known as the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), has issued lifetime bans to Russia’s Sofia Dmitrieva and Alija Merdeeva for match-fixing.
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Merdeeva, who had a highest singles ranking of 928 and highest doubles ranking of 644, was found to have been involved in two incidents of match-fixing.

Dmitrieva, who had a career-high of 1,191 in the WTA singles rankings and 939 in the doubles ranking, was involved in six incidents of match-fixing. She was also ruled to have failed to co-operate with investigations.

The ITIA noted that two of the matches in question involved both players as doubles partners, but did not go into further details on any of the events.

Ruling on the case, anti-corruption hearing officer Charles Hollander QC said that both players breached Section D.1.d of the 2018 Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP). This states no player should directly or indirectly contrive the outcome of an event.

Dmitrieva was also charged with a breach of F.2.b/D.2.c of the 2019 TACP, which requires for players to fully cooperate with ITIA investigations, including giving evidence at hearings.

The sanctions mean both players will no longer be able to play in or attend any tennis event authorised or sanctioned by the sport’s governing bodies including the WTA.

The charges come after former Chilean professional tennis player Mauricio Alvarez-Guzman last week had his appeal against a lifetime ban for match-fixing and corruption dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The ITIA issued the ban in March 2019 after ruling Alvarez-Guzman’s actions breached the sport’s TACP by attempting to manipulate the outcome of an ATP Challenger match.

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