The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has confirmed that six Spanish tennis players have been banned from the sport after being convicted on criminal charges related to match-fixing in Spanish courts.
Marc Fornell Mestres, who was ranked 236th in the ATP rankings, and Jorge Marse Vidri, whose highest ranking was 562nd, were banned, as were unranked players Carlos Ortega, Jaime Ortega, Marcos Torralbo and Pedro Bernabe Franco. .
All six players pleaded guilty to corruption charges and were convicted in Spain as part of a wider case involving organized crime, which remains ongoing.
The verdicts mark the end of a five-year process that involved cooperation between the ITIA, Spanish authorities and the International Association for Betting Integrity (IBIA). With the criminal proceedings completed, the ITIA was able to punish the players and chose to impose lengthy bans and financial penalties.
Punishments of tennis players for manipulation of results
Masters was banned from tennis for a total of 22 years and six months and fined $250,000, $200,000 of which he was suspended. Vidri was banned for 15 years and fined $15,000, with $5,000 suspended.
Ortega was banned for 15 years and fined $150,000, with $140,000 suspended, and Ortega was sidelined for seven and a half years with a fine of $100,000, of which $90,000 was suspended.
Tarralbo was banned from engaging in the sport for 15 years and fined $100,000, with $85,000 suspended, while Franco was banned from tennis for 15 years and fined $100,000, with $75,000 suspended.
All six players are prohibited from playing or participating in any tennis event authorized or sanctioned by any international body or national association for the duration of their bans. They are also prohibited from acting professionally as coaches.
“The completion of this long-term investigation is an important moment for tennis in its fight against corruption. While we are not pleased to see six individuals receive criminal convictions and bans, the message is clear: match-fixing can lead to a prison sentence and could end your tennis career,” said ITIA President Jennie Price.
“It also serves as a wake-up call that organized crime is targeting sport, and governments and law enforcement agencies, as well as anti-corruption bodies in sport, need to take this threat seriously,” Price added.
ITIA Chief Executive Jonny Gray stated: “This is one of the most significant infiltrations of tennis by organized crime we have ever seen. I commend the involvement of law enforcement agencies and the prosecution of entire criminal networks, not just the actors involved.”
“This decision sends a strong message that match-fixing is a crime that can lead to criminal convictions. I must pay tribute to our investigative, intelligence and legal teams who have worked tirelessly over the past five years to bring this case to a close.”
“We also had excellent cooperation between the ITIA and the Spanish law enforcement agencies, as well as the unwavering support of the tennis bodies. Ultimately, we are immensely grateful to the betting industry for their evidence leading to these convictions,” concluded Jonny Gray.