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Australian player banned for 7 years for match-fixing

Associated Press logo Associated Press 9/01/2017

SYDNEY — A former Australian Open junior boys' finalist has been banned from the sport for seven years by the Tennis Integrity Unit after being found guilty of match-fixing offenses at a minor tournament in 2013.

Police in New South Wales state charged Nick Lindahl with intentionally losing a tennis match on which friends had placed bets at an ITF futures tournament at Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, in September 2013.

Lindahl was convicted last April of using corrupt conduct and fined by a criminal court in Australia.

The TIU disciplinary hearing, held by independent anti-corruption official Richard H. McLaren, found Lindahl guilty of charges of contriving or attempting to contrive the outcome of an event, and failing to co-operate with a TIU investigation. He was banned and fined $35,000, the TIU said in a statement on Tuesday.

A betting agency detected unusual gambling patterns and reported it to police. Lindahl reached a career-high ATP ranking of 187 in 2010, when he lost in the first round of the U.S. Open.

Two others were also sanctioned by the TIU for corruption. Brandon Walkin, 22, was given a suspended six-month ban and Isaac Frost, 28, was found to have already served a suspension for failing to cooperate with a TIU investigation.

The TIU said in October 2013 that Lindahl refused to provide his cell phone for forensic download, as requested, in violation of the regulations.

Lindahl, 28, retired from the sport in 2013, but the ban prevents him from resuming playing professional tennis for the seven years of the ban, or from attending any tournament sanctioned by the governing bodies of tennis during that time.

McLaren said Walkin, a singles player ranked No. 1,066, was given a six-month suspension after being found guilty of contriving or attempting to contrive the outcome of an event. The charges involved him passing a corrupt proposal to another party on behalf of Lindahl. He can return to tennis immediately.

Frost, 28, ranked No. 1,515 in singles, was found to have failed to co-operate with the TIU by refusing to supply his cell phone for analysis during the investigation. He served a period of provisional suspension from Oct. 3, 2013 to Sept. 4, 2014, and McLaren concluded that no additional suspension or any fine should be imposed.

Last Thursday, police in Victoria state charged an 18-year-old man following an investigation by detectives from the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit into allegations of match-fixing at a lower-tier tournament in Traralgon, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Melbourne, last October.

Police did not disclose the name or other details of the man, but said he will appear at the Latrobe Valley Magistrates' Court on March 2 charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome.

The start of last year's Australian Open was overshadowed by media reports that tennis authorities failed to properly investigate suspicion of match-fixing involving up to 16 players who had been ranked in the top 50 going back over a decade.

The allegations, released by BBC and Buzzfeed News, triggered wide speculation but no significant new cases. It forced the sport's four governing bodies — the ITF, ATP, WTA and Grand Slam Board — to create an independent review panel to investigate corruption and the effectiveness of anti-corruption practices.

The panel's interim review is expected to be released next month.

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