Why It Matters

Be open about tennis racket

People gamble and athletes cheat. Even as this is well known, news of match-fixing in tennis, revealed in reports by the BBC and BuzzFeed, is disquieting. Competition without integrity undermines the very idea of sport. Victory is supposed to be enjoyed, not to be suspicious of.

This matters because sport is struggling in its fight against widespread corruption. Everywhere we look, we see an unclean business. Fifa administrators have been arrested and suspended. Drug-taking in athletics has revealed nations and officials as either complicit or toothless. The great deed in sport is being revealed as counterfeit.

Reports say that 16 tennis players ranked in the top 50 over the last decade have been under suspicion by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU).

One is reportedly a Grand Slam champion, but whether in singles or doubles is not specified. Apparently eight of them were participating in the Australian Open.

Why no one is naming them is the question.

Finding proof that holds up in court is the answer.

The release of the story during the Australian Open was designed to get it attention and it has. Tennis has been rightly embarrassed but perhaps this will spur it to stronger action rather than being defensive.

The head of the ATP, the governing body of the men's game, Mr Chris Kermode, said: "I think it will be seen that tennis is in a very, very good place."

Perhaps, in fact, it is not. Administrators might need to present a good face to attract sponsors but there is no spinning corruption. It must be combated aggressively and part of that involves speaking about it. You cannot fix a problem unless it is acknowledged. Andy Murray has said that "if there is corruption in any sport, you want to hear about it". He is right, for transparency is essential to good governance. We need to know investigations are on, who is guilty and thus who is innocent.

We need to know that corrupt athletes know that they will be watched, caught and prosecuted.

And so the TIU should be heavily funded, strongly staffed and ruthless in its pursuit of fixers. It matters because even though top players are not involved, the reputation of a great game is at stake.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2016, with the headline 'Be open about tennis racket'. Print Edition | Subscribe