Former tennis player Paradorn: Match-fixers...not in my time

I know the tennis world was rocked when Novak Djokovic revealed he had been approached by match-fixers to lose a match early in his career.

The men's world No. 1 and defending Australian Open champion rejected £110,000 to lose his particular singles match, and this came hot on the heels of various reports of match-fixing in tennis apparently being overlooked by the authorities and even allegations of a cover up over such incidents.

I turned professional in 1997 and retired in 2010.

Many will wonder if I had any sort of brush with match-fixing and I can assure all my fans, friends and family that I've never even been asked to do such a thing.

When I was playing, match-fixing was unheard of. I never even heard of corruption in tennis and there was no chatter in the locker room about any syndicate or any player being involved in match-fixing.

Of course, this does not mean tennis is safe from the scourge and the new developments must be taken seriously by the authorities.

The sport should investigate the matter thoroughly to find out where these accusations are coming from.

I know that a game involving Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello was previously investigated for suspicious betting activity.

That game has been brought up again but an investigation was launched, both players were subsequently cleared and that should be the end of it.

I just cannot fathom professional players attempting to throw games away, especially when they've worked so hard to get to such a level.

I would just like to point out that it is very difficult to predict the outcome of a match. However, the lower-rung tournaments with smaller prize monies will be more susceptible to corruption.

Players who are just getting into the professional circuit and are not as successful yet might be tempted by the extra cash because life at that stage is a struggle.

There might be an offer, he or she might think twice or three times about it before eventually succumbing.

But, there are no excuses and match-fixing at any level is a serious transgression.

I back a lengthy ban and heavy fine for anyone caught match-fixing.

These cheats should be slapped with a three- to five-year ban, even a 10-year suspension, to send a strong message and try and ensure it does not happen again.

Those caught for match-fixing should be treated the same as those who cheat by using performance-enhancing drugs.

Officials should also have the power to question a player right after a match ends if there is evidence something is not right.

I have no issues with betting companies because they do what they need to do and help generate interest as well.

They will attract people who like to bet on the sport to keep the money flowing. Tennis fans can participate in betting, and obviously professional players should stay away from it.

The news of match-fixing in tennis is definitely not good. The better player should win the match, not give away the match.

That is why professional athletes train to be the best.

And when upsets happen, as they always do, it should be because of the magic of sport.

Not the dark arts.

This article was first published on January 20, 2016.
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