Tennis star Novak Djokovic says he was once approached with a $200,000 (£140,000) bribe to fix a match.
Djokovic says he was approached eight years ago though he vehemently defended his sport against accusers who allege match-fixing is widespread.
Djokovic has come to the defense of professional tennis after The BBC conducted a long investigation in partnership with Buzzfeed News, and allegedly found that an unnamed grand-slam winner was under suspicion of match fixing, and that eight players who have been investigated during the past decade, are also part of the “widespread” problem.
They say they have a “cache of documents” stretching back to 2007 that expose, “widespread suspected match-fixing at the top level of world tennis, including at Wimbledon. Over the last decade, 16 players who have ranked in the top 50 have been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit over suspicions they have thrown matches.”
Djokovic say of the accusations: “I’ve heard about the story and I read that there were a couple of players mentioned who are not active anymore,” he said, “talking about the matches that have happened almost 10 years ago. Of course, there is no room for any match-fixing or corruption in our sport. We’re trying to keep it as clean as possible. We have, I think, a sport that has evolved, and have upgraded our programs and authorities to deal with these particular cases.”
“I don’t think a shadow is cast over our sport. People are talking about names, guessing who these players are. But there’s no real proof or evidence yet of any active players, for that matter. As long as it’s like that, it’s just speculation,” he added.
Speaking about his own run-in with a match fixer in 2007, he explains:
“I was not approached directly. Well… I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team. Of course, we threw it away right away. It didn’t even get to me, the guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it.
Unfortunately there were some, in those times, those days, rumours, some talks, some people were going around. They were dealt with. In the last six, seven years, I haven’t heard anything similar. I personally was never approached directly, so I have nothing more to say about that.”
Djokovic says he felt terrible about the incident because he didn’t want to be connected to the scam in any way.