John Whittingdale
John Whittingdale has said accusations of match-fixing have tainted tennisGetty

Accusations that Grand Slam winners were flagged up to the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) over suspicions they were willing the fix matches have tainted tennis, culture secretary John Whittingdale has said.

Files obtained by the BBC and Buzzfeed News contend that 16 players from the world's top 50 have been repeatedly reported to the TIU over suspicions they have thrown matches. The accusations relate to contests played about 10 years ago and prompted 10-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic to reveal he was once offered £110,000 to lose a match.

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rejected claims match-fixing was widespread but Whittingdale has called for an investigation into the claims.

"It's obviously a matter of great concern that yet another sport is facing these allegations of illegal behaviour and it calls into question the whole integrity of the game," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"In the past allegations of the kind have been made against athletics, against football, have appeared to be swept under the carpet and that has done some serious damage. These are serious accusations and they need to be looked into very quickly."

Chris Kermode, the head of the ATP, said the body will look into the allegations and Whittingdale added it was ultimately tennis fans and honest competitors who lost out if the allegations are proved true. "I would hope Wimbledon and the Lawn Tennis Association in England and Wales will actually call upon the International Tennis Federation to carry out an investigation very quickly and they clear up this matter," the MP added.

"This taints the whole of the game and obviously the people who suffer the most are the fans who rely upon the integrity of the sport and that it be conducted fairly and also the other competitors who are entitled to expect that their tournaments are carried out without this accusation of match-fixing."