No Love: Former Uzbekistan tennis player permanently banned for match-fixing

By Isabella Aslam

Former Uzbekistan tennis player, Albina Khabibulina, now based in Kazakhstan, has been banned indefinitely from playing tennis.

On 2 December 2021, The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), aimed at promoting and safeguarding the integrity of professional tennis worldwide, confirmed the player has been banned due to breaching multiple rules of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP).

Professor Richard McLaren, Independent Anti-Corruption Hearing Officer, ruled the case and prohibited Khabibulina from playing tennis. The sanction means that the former player is also forbidden from attending events authorised or sanctioned by international tennis governing bodies, or national associations. Alongside this, a fine has been issued for $150,000.

Mclaren filed the sanction on the basis of finding Khabibulina guilty on numerous counts. These include failing to report corrupt approaches, failing to co-operate with the investigation, attempting to match-fix, and approaching other players asking them to do so.

Khabibulina breached more than one of the TACP rules that state: “No one shall directly or indirectly contrive or attempt to conceive the outcome or any other aspects of any event,” “no covered person shall, directly or indirectly, solicit or facilitate any player to not use his or her best efforts in any event."

In addition, other rules breached were: “All covered persons must cooperate fully with investigations conducted by the TIU [now ITIA],” and “in the event any player knows or suspects that any other covered person or other individual has committed a corruption offence, it shall be the player’s obligation to report such knowledge or suspicion.” 

Khabibulina had a career with the highest scoring in IFT singles, ranking 492, and the highest IFT doubles ranking of 208. The suspension commenced on 21 November 2021; the player did not contest any of the charges made against her, and has 20 business days to file an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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