Tennis players suspected of match fixing for gambling syndicate

By Nathan Joyes

Four tennis players are currently being held in French custody, suspected of helping a gambling syndicate and fixing hundreds of professional tennis matches.

The players are alleged to be working for Grigor Sargsyan, known to the police as the "Maestro."

Authorities believe the individual has paid off more than 100 tennis players to throw matches in at least six different countries.

The four players are Jules Okala, Mick Lescure, Yannick Thivant and Jerome Inzerillo – all lower-tier players, with Inzerillo ranking highest at 354 back in 2012.

Around twelve players are expected to be brought in for questioning by the French authorities over the next few days. Okala and Lescure were this week meant to play in a tournament based in Bressuire, France, before being detained.

Sargsyan currently remains in custody after a series of arrests in Belgium during the summer and is facing organised crime, match-fixing, money laundering and forgery charges.

Spanish police announced last week 28 professional tennis players had been linked to Sargsyan’s illegal gambling ring, taking bribes to fix results. One participated in last year’s US Open.

A police official is quoted as saying: "The impression we’re getting is that it is very commonplace. In time, they could be managers of other new players or trainers, so we have to get them out of the system or they could corrupt others in a few years."


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