The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) told a British parliament select committee on Wednesday 24 February that 246 tennis matches raised suspicions in 2015. The TIU's director of integrity, Nigel Willerton, told the Culture, Media and Sport select committee that the number of alerts had increased from 91 in 2014 to 246 in 2015.
This accounts for approximately 0.2% of the total 120,000 professional tennis matches that take place in a year. This comes a month after an independent review panel (IRP) was set up to investigate allegations of corruption in tennis and the effectiveness of existing procedures including the TIU.
"Tennis has approximately 120,000 matches a year. Last year we had a total of 246 alerts which is a very small percentage on the number of matches," Willerton said.
"So, it's far too many, and that's why we do have an integrity unit and we are obviously concerned. That's why we've gone for an independent review to look at policies and procedures that we have in place, and whether that is sufficient or we do need to change. So, yes tennis is worried about the number of alerts that we have and what is going on, and that's why it's announced the independent review.
"In 2012 we had 14 [alerts], in 2013: 46, in 2014: 91 and then last year a huge leap to 246," he said.
When asked about whether there was any concerns of corruption at Wimbledon, Willerton said: "The alerts we've had on grand slams over the last three years; in 2013 there was one, in 2014 there was one and in 2015 I think there were three, and none of those were at Wimbledon." There are four grand slams on the calendar, the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
The independent review was launched following media reports criticising the TIU for not adequately investigating some 16 players repeatedly flagged over suspicions they had thrown matches in the past decade. Those 16 name were originally cited in 2008 and Willerton admitted that since he took over four years he had not looked at any documents linked to that report. Willerton added that the TIU would not name any player they were investigating as it could jeopardise their whole career.
"My opinion is that you are innocent until proven guilty. These people have sponsors and if you name them, and there's nothing at the end of it, you'd have affected their whole livelihood on what I consider one stream of information and a betting alert. I don't think that is proportionate to do."