Rees retires from leading the fight against corruption

Former police officer will step down but the sport's crackdown on match-fixing continues

Jeff Rees, the former Metropolitan Police detective who has led the fight against corruption in tennis, is to retire at the end of the year. Rees, who has run the Tennis Integrity Unit since it was established four years ago, is being replaced by another former Metropolitan Police officer, Nigel Willerton, who has been working as an investigator with the unit for the last two and a half years.

Willerton, 52, will be aiming to build on the progress made by Rees, whose work has already led to two players being banned for life and others being fined or suspended. Rees, who leads a permanent staff of five from their London base, has made players acutely aware of the risks they run by getting involved in match-fixing or even just by failing to alert the authorities to suspicious approaches.

Rees, 66, has been at the heart of attempts by the sport to eradicate corruption ever since he co-authored a report into "integrity in professional tennis" four years ago.

His report said that 45 of the 73 matches involving suspect betting patterns he had looked into over the previous five years warranted further investigation.

Thanks to its co-operation with gambling companies, the TIU is now alerted when suspicious betting patterns are noticed in matches. Nevertheless, the unit's work has underlined how difficult it can be to bring investigations to successful conclusions, particularly in a sport in which those involved in betting coups may be operating in different countries and under different laws.

In the circumstances it has been a notable achievement to suspend two players for life. Austria's Daniel Köllerer, a former world No 55, and Serbia's David Savic, who reached No 363, were both banned for attempting to fix matches.

Others have been warned that they are being watched because of ongoing suspicions, while tournaments have been told to look out for individuals believed to have been involved in corruption. The TIU has also advised on tightening security in player areas at tournaments.

Although the market for tennis betting has grown substantially, a spokesman for William Hill said yesterday that the sport accounted for just 0.3 per cent of the company's online turnover. He was confident that major betting coups in tennis were no longer possible.

"The risk analysis and the systems that we have in place mean that anything suspicious gets red-flagged so quickly that if any coup was being planned nobody would be able to get away with it," he said.

Scott Ferguson, a former head of education at Betfair and now a respected blogger, believes that the TIU has helped to limit match-fixing. However, he suspects that corruption may have simply switched to the tennis equivalent of "spot-fixing", in which players agree to split the first two sets of a match before giving their all in the decider – a process which would have a significant effect on the in-play betting.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz