July 21, 2008

Two more players sanctioned for gambling

The Czech Republic's Frantisek Cermak and Slovakia's Michal Mertinak became the latest players to be banned and fined for betting on tennis matches, the ATP said on Monday.

As the governing body of men's tennis continues to crack down on gambling in the sport, the two Eastern European doubles specialists became the first non-Italians to be sanctioned under the ATP's anti-corruption programme.

Cermak, 31, who does not have a singles ranking, was banned for 10 weeks from Monday and fined $15,000, while world number 616 Mertinak received a two-week suspension and a $3000 penalty.

"An ATP investigation launched in November 2007 found that Mr. Cermak had wagered on tennis matches during a period dating from 9 Sept. 2006 through 1 Feb. 2007," the ATP said in a statement.

"The same investigation found that Mr. Mertinak had wagered on tennis matches during October of 2006."

The ATP said neither player had placed bets on their own matches and the independent hearing officer found no evidence of any intent to affect the outcome of any matches wagered upon.

"The ATP's anti-corruption programme is clear that gambling on any form of tennis match will not be tolerated," said Gayle David Bradshaw, ATP's executive vice president, rules and competition.

Five Italians had already been sanctioned since the ATP launched a worldwide investigation almost a year ago.

Alessio di Mauro, Potito Starace, Daniele Bracciali, Giorgio Galimberti and Federico Luzzi have been punished for gambling on tennis matches.

Di Mauro was handed the stiffest sentence of nine months and fined $60,000.

Corruption has been high on the ATP's agenda following an investigation last year prompted by irregular betting patterns in a match between Russian Nikolay Davydenko and Argentine Martin Vassallo Arguello in Poland.

Both players deny any involvement but British online betting exchange Betfair voided all bets on the match.

Several players have since said they had turned down offers to throw a match in exchange for money.

The ATP's Anti-Corruption Program prohibits players and their entourage from betting on any form of tennis. (Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Miles Evans)

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