Monday, March 03, 2008

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It's happened again. The Italian professional tennis players have now overtaken their Russian counterparts in the race for tennis "rackets" of the year! And obviously I do not mean the tennis rackets made by Wilson or Prince but rather those strings put together by the Russian and Italian Mafias! The latest tennis player being skewered for illegal gambling is Federico Luzzi, and as are the rest of his countrymen fined and suspended for betting, Luzzi is quite low ranked on the tennis totem pole.

Here's the article on the newswire:


THE gambling scandal that has hounded tennis for the past six months has struck again, with Italian world No. 139 Federico Luzzi being banned for betting on 836 matches, including at least one match in which he was involved.

Luzzi is the fourth Italian player to be banned under the ATP's anti-corruption guidelines after Potito Starace, Alessio di Mauro and Daniele Bracciali received bans last November for betting on other players' matches.

Luzzi was named three times in a secret dossier of suspect tennis matches supplied to the ATP by bookmakers and obtained by The Sunday Age. One of those matches was against Filippo Volandri, another Italian, who is named 11 times on the dossier, more than any other player.

In that match, in Sweden last year, Luzzi was leading 6-4, 4-2 before losing in three sets. The ATP said Luzzi had not been found guilty of trying to alter the outcome of any match.

The 28-year-old, who plays mostly on the Challenger circuit, was suspended for 200 days and fined $52,000. He has earned about $500,000 in prizemoney in nine years as a professional.

"An ATP investigation, launched in August 2007, found that Luzzi had wagered 273 times on 836 tennis matches between May 2004 and April 2007," said an ATP statement. "Of these 273 bets, one was a three-euro bet, placed on himself to win. ATP found no evidence of any attempt by Luzzi to affect the outcome of any tennis match. This was a conclusion shared by the independent anti-corruption hearing officer, Dr Peter Bratschi."

Gayle Bradshaw, the ATP's executive vice-president, said that the case further underlined the sport's determination to battle against betting.

"The ATP's tennis anti-corruption program is clear that gambling on tennis matches by ATP players, player associates or staff will not be tolerated," said Bradshaw. "The ATP is committed to ensuring the integrity of our sport."

Several players have said they have been offered money to throw matches since the scandal began, with an investigation into irregular betting patterns in a match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello in Poland in August. That match is still under investigation.