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Di Mauro banned 9 months for tennis bets

Di Mauro banned 9 months for tennis bets

Di Mauro banned 9 months for tennis bets
Associated Press 

Alessio di Mauro was suspended for nine months Saturday for betting on tennis matches, becoming the first player to be sanctioned under the ATP's new anti-corruption rules.
The 124th-ranked Italian was also fined $60,000 after being found guilty of making 120 bets with an online bookmaker from Nov. 2, 2006 to June 12 this year.

Di Mauro, who faced a maximum penalty of three years, is banned until Aug. 12, 2008.

The investigation found none of the bets were on his matches and no results were affected.

"This does underline our policy of players and staff wagering on tennis," ATP president Etienne de Villiers said. "If we do not have a sport with integrity, we do not have a sport. We recognized in 2003 the threat of online betting. We take this really seriously."

In 2003, the ATP signed an agreement with online betting company Betfair to share information on suspicious matches.

De Villiers said that a new rule requiring players to report any attempt to fix a match within 48 hours of being contacted will be passed at an ATP board meeting on Nov. 15.

The head of the ATP's new anti-corruption body will be selected from the three remaining candidates at the same board meeting.

"Do I believe we have a corruption problem? No, I don't," De Villiers said. "We will do anything we can to deal with this threat."

Calls to di Mauro's cell phone went unanswered Saturday. But the Italian tennis federation criticized the penalty as too harsh. Spokesman Giancarlo Baccini said he believes di Mauro is being used as a scapegoat.

"At first glance, it seems disproportionate considering other bans in the past - from doping cases, for example," Baccini told The Associated Press.

"They say he never committed sporting fraud, so the only thing he did was bet, which is prohibited and should definitely be punished," Baccini said. "But there have been players banned only six months for doping, so nine months for di Mauro seems disproportionate."

The Italian federation issued a separate statement noting that the ATP said di Mauro never tried to affect the result of a match, "Whereas doping, besides putting in danger the health of whoever does it, is equal in all effects to sporting fraud."

The 30-year-old Di Mauro has a 5-10 record this year and is 16-35 overall. He has earned $130,915 in prize money.

Di Mauro's season highlight came in February when he reached the final of a clay-court tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Sicilian reached a career-high ranking of 68th.

Di Mauro's coach, Fabio Rizzo, told Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this week that Di Mauro was an avid online gambler but never bet on his own matches or cheated.

"He didn't know about the ban on players betting on their own sport and he also foolishly bet on tennis," Rizzo said. "But not on his own matches, and not even on tournaments he played in.

"And we're talking about very small figures - $15-$22 at a time that Alessio bet on an online site, like many colleagues. He's always had a passion for betting on sports, mostly soccer."

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Re: Di Mauro banned 9 months for tennis bets

Tennis wrongly goes after the little guy

No. 124-ranked Alessio Di Mauro of Italy for the moment becomes the poster boy for tennis reform with suspension over betting, but the Nikolay Davydenko case remains open.

Apparently, the suits and ties that run tennis are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore.

How else could we interpret their recent jaw-dropping suspension of the No. 124-ranked player on the men's ATP tour? Get these guys really riled up and they might just get tough with No. 123.

For the next nine months, tennis fans will have to do without any matches involving Alessio Di Mauro of Italy. StubHub and EBay must be making contingency plans now for huge drop-offs in tennis ticket revenue.

One wonders if the Di Mauro Fan Club, always there for his first-round losses on Court 26 in the Grand Slams, will be able to stay together in the interim.

Seriously, folks, pending some pretty quick follow-up action of some substance, this suspension of Di Mauro for betting on matches not involving him is a joke.

It is reminiscent of the days when the legendary Jerry Tarkanian, of Cal State Long Beach, Nevada Las Vegas and Fresno State basketball coaching fame, was battling with the suits that ran the NCAA.

Tark, not in line for sainthood but maybe not quite the villain the NCAA made him out to be, had a great line about how big-time sports is administrated.

"The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky," Tark said, "that it gave Cleveland State two more years of probation."

Big-time sports knows where its bread is buttered. It gets tough with the little guy, who doesn't matter anyway. It is called "sending a message." We are supposed to twitter in admiration for stern actions taken and get right back in line to buy tickets, feeling better that the sport has been cleaned up.

Let's say baseball's Mitchell Commission comes back with a stinging rebuke against clubhouse attendants for facilitating widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs and says they are at fault for Barry Bonds looking like Adonis as he pays senior greens fees for golf. We'd all howl.

That's kind of what tennis is doing, except that any similarity between the popularity of baseball and tennis is purely delusional.

For the moment, Di Mauro has become the poster boy for tennis reform. At least this way he gets his name in the paper.

Poor tennis. It was tiptoeing along so nicely, lining its pockets with cash four times a year at the Slams and trying to convince the public that all the stuff in between really mattered. To the hard-core tennis fans, it did. The sport had a nice spot, right there below the radar.

Then a British betting company pulled all the bets back on a match in August between Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina. The match was in an early round of a minor tournament in Sopot, Poland. Arguello has about the same profile in tennis as Di Mauro, which is none. But Davydenko is a top-five player.

So when Davydenko won the first set, rather easily as you might expect, and money immediately started to pour in on Arguello to win the match, the people at the betting company Betfair smelled a rat. Hard to fool these guys.

Then, golly, Davydenko lost the second set and, golly again, he had a foot injury in the third and couldn't continue, defaulting to Arguello.

Tennis had a problem. The same sports media that was running its match results on Page 15 was running its gambling news on Page 1.

The crisis became a circus.

Davydenko played on through the U.S. Open, met the press several times, looked jumpy and skittish like he always does, and appeared to be denying all.

He eventually lost to Roger Federer and, about a week later, was interviewed by tennis officials about the match in Poland. That meant that nearly six weeks had passed between the suspicious match and the beginning of the investigation.

Tennis officials held a news conference of their own at the U.S. Open. They talked tough and looked determined, maybe even outraged. One floor above, in the U.S. Tennis Center, a walk through the players' lounges on any day of the tournament would have shown at least a half-dozen credentialed people (players, coaches, trainers, friends of friends) signed on to laptops, looking at foreign betting sites.

That's the kind of betting that tennis implied Di Mauro was doing.

Since then, five or six players have come forth to confirm that is happening. They have gone on the record with their names. Many more have said so too, anonymously.

One player told The Times that he had turned down a credential request from a guy who merely wanted access to the players' lounge at a tournament. The player turned him down, knowing why he wanted it, but noted that he had shown up, anyway, getting the credential from somebody else.

The player said the person was around for the first few days of the tournament, then retired to his hotel room and his laptop for the rest of the event, where he could use all the casual information he had acquired while hanging around the players' lounge.

"The guy said he made a killing that week," the player told The Times.

A tennis match is easy to fix. Frequently, for reasons of injury or boredom -- and certainly with no cash incentive -- players dog it in matches, happy to take their third-round paycheck and get out of Dodge.

Of course, when it rains, it pours. In recent weeks, popular star Martina Hingis of Switzerland has tested positive for cocaine use and top-10 player Tommy Haas of Germany has speculated that he was poisoned right around the time of a recent Davis Cup match with Russia.

Then, Davydenko's lawyer said last weekend that the investigators tennis has hired are "clueless," that his client is stressed out over this, and that he has asked tennis to cease and desist until the end of the year.

That's what tennis apparently has done too, now that it has rooted out the main culprit, the sport's cancer, the evil eye of the hurricane, Alessio Di Mauro.

Maybe next, they'll suspend Cleveland State's tennis team.

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