In 2007, as the Association of Tennis Professionals began a crackdown on gambling and disciplined five lower-ranked Italian players for making bets on matches, it knew that gambling accounts were maintained in the names of some of its top-ranked players, who bet on matches, and did not follow up and discipline them, according to evidence revealed in a federal lawsuit.
The ATP, citing the court’s confidentiality order, declined to comment.
The year the crackdown began, Ted Forstmann, chairman of the sports and entertainment conglomerate IMG Worldwide, was betting on one of his company’s clients, Roger Federer, at the 2007 French Open men’s final. Forstmann acknowledges betting $40,000 on Federer.
The ATP released a statement last week that it had sent a message that “we consider his behavior inappropriate and that he will be in violation of the rules if he engages in such activity in the future.” Forstmann recently said he stopped gambling in 2007.
Elgidely said that the ATP showed a double standard in its lack of a punishment for Forstmann. The anticorruption policy in the ATP rule book at the time, he said, prohibited gambling on tennis by “any coach, trainer, manager, agent, family member, tournament guest or other affiliate, or associate of any player.”
But on Friday, Gayle Bradshaw, an ATP spokesman, said that the gambling prohibition at the time extended only “to a player and/or his regular travelling support team (player support personnel).” He added, “The important thing is that tennis adopted a uniform anticorruption code in 2009, which was a significant advancement for the sport.”
On Friday, Elgidely questioned the response. “Of course, the ATP is free to interpret its rules as it deems appropriate,” he said, “but an interpretation that excludes Forstmann from its reach would seem to be contrary to its professed zero-tolerance policy and the presumably intentionally broad terminology used in the rule.”
Forstmann, 70, is being sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Agate Printing Inc., which alleges fraud, interference with contract and breach of contract. In the complaint, Jim Agate, the head of Agate Printing, is seeking extensive damages for lost business that he says Forstmann promised him. Agate also contends in the suit that he served as a conduit for hundreds of bets totaling millions of dollars that Forstmann placed on events in various sports.
Besides representing many of tennis’s top players, including Federer and Rafael Nadal, IMG has deep business ties with the professional tennis tours. It owns and operates several tournaments, including the Sony Ericsson Open, held every spring in Miami. Gavin Forbes, a senior vice president of IMG, is also a member of the ATP’s board of directors.
The ATP’s gambling crackdown began on Nov. 10, 2007, when one of Elgidely’s clients, Alessio di Mauro, was suspended for nine months and fined $60,000 after being found guilty of betting with an online bookmaker from Nov. 2, 2006, to June 12, 2007. None of the bets were on his matches and no results were affected, according to the investigation, and the amounts were nominal. He was ranked 107th at the time he was notified that he was under investigation, and his penalties were subsequently reduced to seven months and $25,000.
The disciplinary action came in the wake of suspicions of match fixing in tennis after Betfair, an England-based betting exchange, voided $7 million in bets after Nikolay Davydenko, then the world’s No. 4 player, withdrew from a match against 74th-ranked Martín Vassallo Arguello of Argentina at the Prokom Open in Sopot, Poland. It also set off a wave of allegations from at least a dozen ranked players that they had been asked to throw matches or had heard of similar approaches to others.
Federer said that he sought a detailed explanation from Forstmann after the lawsuit charged that Forstmann had increased a bet on the 2007 French Open final after consulting with Federer.
While acknowledging his bet on Federer, Forstmann has rejected the claims in the lawsuit, questioned Agate’s credibility and denied receiving inside information from Federer.
Lawyers for Agate have requested that Forstmann be deposed on Dec. 13 in New York.
“Today we filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the previous agreement Mr. Forstmann had with Mr. Agate and to stay the case, as allowed under CA law,” said Michael Sitrick, a spokesman for Forstmann. “Thus, no discovery could take place.”
Sitrick continued: “With respect to the case itself, the allegations in James Agate’s complaint are beyond false, they are preposterous; knowing he has no case in a court of law, Agate continues to attempt to try this case in the court of public opinion.”
Courtesy: New York Times