Competitive tennis may be hold for now, but the work of the Tennis Integrity Unit continues to police the game, detecting a heightened level of corrupt activity at the entry levels of pro tennis in the first quarter of the year ahead of the coronavirus lockdown.
The Board was unanimous in its support for a Return to Tennis campaign to inform and protect the players, and to guard against the threat to the integrity of the sport. Jenny Price, independent Chair of the TIU Supervisory Board
This was evidenced by an increase in match alerts prior to the suspension of all tennis in March and confidential information received from tennis and betting sources.
French official Anthony Pravettoni was suspended for 8 months and fined $5,000, effective from 9 April, for placing 42 bets on matches between 24 February and 27 August 2019, none of which he officiated in.
Three months of the suspension and $4,500 of the fine, however, are suspended on condition that he commits no further breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP).
Following a virtual meeting, the TIU Supervisory Board approved a cost-effective Return to Tennis education and awareness campaign in recognition of the unique circumstances created by the pandemic to inform and support players, officials and tournament personnel about the potential integrity risks posed.
“It’s imperative that when tennis is able to resume, everyone involved is aware of the potential integrity risks,” said Jenny Price, independent Chair of the Board.
“The Board was unanimous in its support for a Return to Tennis campaign to inform and protect the players, and to guard against the threat to the integrity of the sport.”
Work towards establishing a new independent tennis integrity organisation with its own legal identity is well advanced and the new company is to be called the International Tennis Integrity Agenct (ITIA) and operational by 1 January 2021.
This will replace the current TIU, with staff becoming employees of the new agency.
Plans to integrate the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP) within the new ITIA continue on a delayed timeline until the tennis calendar is fully restored.
Meanwhile, Nicolas Jarry has been banned for 11 months after the Chilean player tested positive for two banned substances.
Jarry, the World No 89, was suspended in January after being charged with an anti-doping rule violation.
A urine sample from the player taken on 19 November at the Davis Cup Finals, held in Madrid, was found to have contained metabolites of SARM LGD-4033 – ligandrol – and stanozolol, both prohibited as non-specified substances under the World Anti-Doping Agency list as anabolic agents.
Jarry was charged on 4 January, before being provisionally suspended 10 days later.
The ITF has since accepted Jarry’s explanation on how the substances entered his system, that his physician, a sports medicine specialist, had prescribed him four bespoke supplements with each containing different combinations of vitamins, minerals and other compounds.
Following further investigation, the ITF ruled Jarry had no significant fault or negligence for his rule violation and said the 24-year-old was entitled to have his period of ineligibility backdated to start on the date of last occurrence of his violation.
His 11-month sanction was therefore backdated to 16 December and will end at midnight on 15 November this year.
Given that the ITF has suspended all tournaments until at least July, and it may well be even longer before tennis returns, Jarry stands to miss far less tennis than an 11-month ban would usually incur.
The ITF has urged players to exercise extreme caution in considering whether to use supplements and said any violation resulting from ingestion of contaminated substances will likely lead to a significant period of ineligibility.
The governing body highlighted that consumption of bespoke supplements, in particular those made in compound pharmacies in South America, carries a significant degree of risk for athletes who are subject to anti-doping rules.