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Murray says match-fixing is common problem 09/10/2007
Andy Murray says temptation for players to throw matches is too strong as authorities set zero-tolerance agenda

Britain's No1 Andy Murray has stated that he believes players on the circuit are involved in match-fixing. Murray told BBC Radio Five Live that the financial incentives to cheat are too tempting for some players in the lower reaches of the professional game. "It doesn't really surprise me," he said. "Some guys have to come to tournaments like this every single week and the first-round loser's cheque is only €2,500 (£1,700) and they have got to pay their air fares and it's only a 10 or 12-year career so you have to make all your money while you're still paying."

Murray also raised concerns about the likelihood of the tennis authorities being able to single out those players who are guilty of throwing matches, explaining: "it's difficult to prove if someone has tanked a match or not tried because they can try their best until the last couple of games of each set and then make some mistakes, a couple of double faults, and that's it."

Murray's decision to speak out against such goings-on has not been met with great enthusiasm by the former British tennis player Andrew Castle, who criticised Murray for going public with his claims. "I think he has been unguarded and naïve. If he has these claims he should take them to the ATP officials. Tennis has been thrown into something that doesn't make the game look good."

Another former British player, Barry Cowan, said that he was also aware of low-paid players being vulnerable to match-fixers. "I know it does go on, that players are approached. There have been cases where people have approached players and said 'I'll give you x-amount of money to throw this match'. It goes on at ATP and Challenger level where if you lose in the first round you only get $225."

The former British Davis Cup player Arvind Parmar has also claimed he was offered money to lose a match at a low-key ATP Challenger event and Gilles Elseneer claimed he was offered €100,000 (£69,000) to lose his first-round match at Wimbledon in 2005 while fellow Belgian Dick Norman revealed he has been asked to provide in-depth information on other players' fitness.

The ATP have a zero tolerance policy towards players who get involved in gambling, and are currently investigating betting patterns during a match in Poland between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello. Davydenko's price drifted out despite him winning the first set, and he later pulled out of the match through injury. Davydenko denies any wrongdoing.

The four leading organisations in professional tennis - the ATP Tour, the Grand Slam Committee, the International Tennis Federation and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour - have agreed to set up an international unit to fight against corruption in the sport. Etienne de Villiers, the executive chairman of the ATP, said: "We see the establishment of a dedicated global 'Tennis Integrity Unit' as a key priority for the sport and plans to create one are well advanced."