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TIU bans Algerian player Ikhlef for match-fixing

| By Daniel O'Boyle
The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has issued a seventh ban in six weeks, giving Algerian player Aymen Ikhlef a lifetime ban after finding 10 breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP) including four counts of match-fixing.
ITIA tennis corruption

Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer Richard McLaren ruled that Ikhlef was guilty of four instances of match-fixing, two instances of soliciting players not to use their best efforts, three instances of failure to report corruption and one charge of failing to cooperate with an investigation.

Ikhlef – who is 25 years old and reached a career-high ATP ranking of 1,739 in 2015 – was found to have breached sections D.1.d, D.1.e, D.2.a.i and Section F.2.b of the TACP.

D.1.d of the 2016 TACP says that “no covered person shall, directly or indirectly, contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome or any other aspect of any event”. D.1.e says players may not “directly or indirectly solicit or facilitate any player to not use his or her best efforts in any event”. 

Meanwhile D.2.a.i says a player who is approached “by any person who offers or provides any type of money, benefit or consideration” to influence the outcome of a game must report this interaction to the TIU. Section F.2.b says players and officials must cooperate fully with TIU investigations and must not tamper with evidence.

Ikhlef is the seventh player or official to be banned by the TIU in the last six weeks. Last month, two Bulgarian professional players – brothers Karen and Yuri Khachatryan – were handed lifetime and 10-year bans respectively after being found guilty of match-fixing, soliciting other players not to use best efforts and a repeated failure to cooperate with the TIU’s investigation.

Late that month Aleksandrina Naydenova, another Bulgarian player, was banned for life for partaking in match-fixing activity multiple times between 2015 and 2019.

Then, on 1 December, Enrique López Pérez of Spain – who reached a career-high ATP singles world ranking of No. 154 in 2018 – was found guilty of three separate match-fixing events in 2017. He received an eight-year ban and a $25,000 fine.

Early last week, the TIU announced it handed out a lifetime ban to Ukrainian player Stanislav Poplavskyy for match-fixing and “courtsiding” activities, while it also fined and banned Britain’s George Kennedy for a total of seven months for betting. Later in the week it announced that French line judge David Rocher had been banned for 18 months betting on matches.

On 1 January 2021, the TIU will rebrand as the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA). It will continue to just cover betting integrity enforcement in tennis in 2021, before adding doping under its jurisdiction from 2022.

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