Russian player arrested for match-fixing at 2020 French Open
PARIS (AP) — A Russian tennis player suspected of match-fixing last year has been arrested during this year’s French Open, her lawyer told The Associated Press on Friday.
The player, 765th-ranked Yana Sizikova of Russia, denied the allegations, according to her lawyer, Frederic Belot. He told The Associated Press that Sizikova wants to file a complaint for defamation.
The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed to the AP that a “women’s international player” was in custody, but it did not identify her. She was arrested Thursday night on charges of “sports bribery and organized fraud for acts likely to have been committed in September 2020,” the prosecutor’s office said.
An investigation was opened last October by a French police unit specializing in betting fraud and match-fixing. It has previously worked with Belgian authorities investigating suspect matches at the lower levels of professional tennis.
The French tennis federation said it could not provide further information because the investigation is ongoing.
The International Tennis Integrity Agency, which investigates match-fixing in the sport, declined to comment on the details of the case but said in a message to the AP that “there has been ongoing liaison between the ITIA and law enforcement in France.”
Speaking to the AP in a phone interview, her lawyer said Sizikova was “extremely shocked.”
“She was placed in custody like a criminal. She says she is innocent and did not want me to assist her during her questioning because she considers herself like a victim,” Belot said.
Belot said he only started representing Sizikova on Friday after he was approached by the player’s parents. He said Sizikova had contacted the ITIA when the case was opened last year to deny any wrongdoing.
The prosecutor’s office said the probe centered on suspicions about one match at Roland Garros last year. It did not specify the match. German newspaper Die Welt and French sports daily L’Equipe said at the time there were suspicious betting patterns in the first round of a women’s doubles match on Sept. 30.
On that day, Sizikova and partner Madison Brengle of the United States played on Court No. 10 against Romanian players Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig. Sizikova was broken to love serving in the fifth game of the second set, during which she double-faulted twice.
Le Parisien reported Friday that tens of thousands of euros (dollars) were bet with several operators in different countries on the Romanian players winning that game.
The newspaper said the 26-year-old Sizikova, who is ranked 101st in doubles, was arrested Thursday after losing in the first round of the doubles tournament at Roland Garros. The newspaper said authorities searched Sizikova’s hotel room.
Last year’s French Open, delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, was played in late September and early October.
AP Sports Writers Andrew Dampf in Rome and James Ellingworth in Dusseldorf, Germany, contributed to this report.
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