News 12th October 2015

Match-fixing life bans overturned for Italian tennis duo

The Italian professional tennis player Daniele Bracciali and his occasional doubles partner Potito Starace have had their life bans from tennis overturned. The Federal Court of Appeal of the Federazione Italiana Tennis (FIT) renounced Starace’s ban completely, and reduced Bracciali’s life ban to a 12-month suspension.

In February the FIT suspended the two tennis players pending investigation over match-fixing allegations. In August Bracciali and Starace were then banned for life after the FIT found them guilty of altering the outcome of several matches in order to ‘achieve illegal profits through betting.’ The Federation further handed down a €40,000 fine to Bracciali and a €20,000 fine to Starace. Bracciali’s fine has now been reduced to €20,000.

In a statement on Saturday the FIT said, “The decision was reached following an appeal lodged against the sentence, with which an FIT tribunal found both players guilty of altering the results of certain matches in order to gain financially from illicit sports betting.”

The tennis players were originally implicated in a match-fixing investigation conducted by Cremona prosecutors in Italy earlier in the year and the players were suspended by the FIT at the request of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office. The Sports Integrity Initiative reported that the match-fixing allegations were understood to have ranged back to an alleged July 2007 conversation between Bracciali and an accountant, who was arrested in 2011, about fixing a match against Scoville Jenkins in the USA.

ESPN have reported that the two players ‘still face likely charges of criminal association’ by judicial authorities in Cremona, who conducted the initial probe which triggered the FIT’s initial ruling. The news site also wrote that, in addition to the 2007 incident, an owner of a betting parlor, who was later arrested, was allegedly heard in 2011 saying Starace agreed to fix the result of a final in Casablanca, Morocco.

In July, the President of the FIT, Angelo Binaghi said that the federation may sue the players for damages if they were convicted. Binaghi is yet to comment on the latest developments.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the initial trial of the two players by the FIT was held behind closed doors, with no access to the media or the public. The decisions for the new rulings against Bracciali and Starace have not yet been released.

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