October 30, 2007

Clement 'asked to throw a match'

Former top 10 tennis player Arnaud Clement said today that he had been offered money to throw a match.

"It happened to me but I will not tell you where or how," Clement, the 2001 Australian Open runner up, said after his first-round defeat by Mikhail Youzhny at the BNP Paribas Masters Paris.

"I didn't hesitate for a second, I said no.

"It may be different for a guy who's not that high up in the rankings and who has financial problems.

"It's very serious.

"I can't imagine that a top 10 player could accept that, but it's hard to imagine as well that guys go to tournaments to make such offers.

"I haven't heard many players say it happened to them."

Clement, who is now ranked No.53 in the world, believes he is unlikely to be approached again, but he believes that authorities have to hit hard to stamp out corruption.

"They should throw (the perpetrators) off the circuit," he said.

"It's a really preoccupying situation.

"It can happen to eveyone to get fed up with (playing) a match. But I've already seen matches where players have thrown good points away."

The threat of possible match-fixing was being taken very seriously at the Paris tournament, French Tennis Federation (FFT) president Christian Bimes said earlier today.

"We consider this a serious problem," Bimes said.

"It is a dreadful disease which is a threat for tennis worldwide.

"We have to act straight away and be as severe with this as we are with doping."

Bimes said that information on the volume of betting involved in the game was being collected through the professional players association (ATP) and the European lotteries network.

The French national betting operator, Francais des Jeux, will monitor betting activity during the Paris Masters tournament.

FDJ will monitor the betting patterns on four national lottery companies from Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia and Switzerland, and it will inform FFT should irregular betting patterns be discovered.

The move follows irregular betting on a match in which world No.4 Nikolay Davydenko lost to unheralded Martin Vassallo Arguello at Sopot in August, despite Davydenko taking the first set.

Davydenko, who strenuously denies any wrong-doing, came under the spotlight again early last week when he was fined $US2000 for not trying hard enough during his shock defeat to Croatian qualifier Marin Cilic at St Petersburg.

Bimes said all matches were being recorded at the Masters, where Davydenko is the defending champion, and information would be provided to police when match and betting analyses indicate suspect performances.

"(Police) are the only ones who can undertake certain types of investigation," he said.

The measures will be evaluated at the end of the Paris Masters before being implemented at the French Open at Roland-Garros next year.

"We aren't naive enough to think that we are going to fix this problem by waving a magic wand," FFT director Jean-Francois Vilotte said.

"But in any case, we want it clearly understood that betting on (Paris Masters) matches on banned sites is from now on a risky activity."

The ATP is also cracking down on possible match-fixing, with president Etienne De Villiers vowing the possibility of a life ban for any person found guilty of involvement in match-fixing.