McEnroe is troubled by Russian's 'bribery' ban

Bychkova, 24, suspended for 30 days after failing to report suspect approach

John McEnroe came to the defence yesterday of a 24-year-old Russian player who has been punished for failing to inform the sport's authorities that she had been asked to influence the result of matches.

The tennis integrity unit, which investigates allegations of betting-related corruption, fined Ekaterina Bychkova $5,000 (about £3,100) and banned her for 30 days. Without going into details, it said the world No 122 had "received a proposal to provide inside information and influence the outcome of matches in exchange for substantial compensation, which was not disclosed by Ms Bychkova until questioned by investigators". Following the investigation, an independent hearing "found no evidence that Ms Bychkova contrived or accepted any compensation to contrive the outcome or any other aspect of a tennis match."

McEnroe, who said that match-fixing was "a huge concern" for tennis, felt Bychkova's punishment would dissuade other players from being honest. "From what I understand, [she] was approached, said no, and just because she didn't report that – maybe she was afraid, I think that's a legitimate concern – then she's suspended," McEnroe told Australian Associated Press in Adelaide, where he is playing in an exhibition event.

He thought the rule obliging players to report such approaches made little sense. "Certainly, that should be followed up so that someone who is actually doing the right thing doesn't get penalised, as opposed to someone who does the wrong thing and gets away with it, potentially," McEnroe said. "It almost seems we're more worried about the gamblers than the athletes."

The London-based integrity unit was set up by the main governing bodies in tennis after Jeff Rees and Ben Gunn, two former Metropolitan Police officers, conducted a review of the sport. The unit's investigations have led to punishments for some little-known players for minor betting offences – under the sport's anti-corruption programme players and their associates are banned from any form of gambling on tennis – but this is believed to be the first suspension simply for failing to report an approach.

Bychkova made her debut on the main WTA tour in 2003. She has never gone beyond a semi-final on the tour or past the second round of a Grand Slam event and has played mostly on the lower-tier International Tennis Federation circuit. She has won $658,819 (about £408,000) in prize money over the course of her career.

Another Russian, Elena Dementieva, said she was also unaware of the requirement to inform the authorities, but a WTA spokesman said last night that players had been informed of this at a mandatory meeting in Miami last year.

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before