Two Players Questioned Over Suspicious Match At Second-Tier French Tournament

Paris (AFP/APP): Two tennis players, one from Kyrgyzstan and one from Uzbekistan, were formally questioned by a French investigating judge on Thursday over suspected match fixing.

The two women appeared in court in Pontoise in the suburbs of Paris, the prosecutors’ office said, adding that they were arrested on September 23 and 24 during a tournament in Clermont, in central France. The inquiry stems from a tournament in Gonesse, not far from Pontoise, in March, a source close to the investigation told AFP.

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France’s Central Racing and Gaming Service, which is handling the case, is already conducting an extensive investigation into a network of match-fixing in French tennis. The Uzbekistan player is suspected of deliberately losing a match during the ITF Gonesse tournament which offered $15,000 in prize money.

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French daily newspaper Le Monde reported that the player from Kyrgyzstan is suspected of having acted as an intermediary for gamblers.  Le Monde said the authorities in Great Britain alerted the French authorities to suspicious betting. In January, Belgian prosecutors said they were investigating “100 individuals”, many of them players and coaches.

The case involved “a highly structured gang from Eastern Europe, which acts from Belgium and specialises in tennis matches,” said Eric Van Duyse, a Belgian spokesman. “They focused on low-stakes games, where it’s easier to bribe and cheat,” he added.

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Van Duyse said the inquiry has spread across seven countries: Bulgaria, Slovakia, Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United States and Belgium.

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