Spanish tennis star handed 22-YEAR ban as five others convicted for match-fixing scandal

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A Spanish tennis star has been handed a 22 and-a-half year ban by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) following criminal convictions for match fixing. Marc Formell Mestres and five other players have received fines and bans for being involved in the scandal, which prompted a five-year investigation.

Formell Mestres, Jorge Marse-Vidri, Carlos Ortega, Jaime Ortega, Marcos Torralbo and Pedro Bernabe Franco were each fined 450 euros by a Spanish court. The bans imposed on the offenders range from seven to 22 years.

Formell Mestres’ ban is the longest of those involved. The former world No 236 also received a €250,000 (£213,500) fine, with €200,000 (£170,800) suspended.

Jorge Marse Vidri (highest ATP ranking 562) has been banned for 15 years and fined €15,000 (£12,800) with €10,000 (£8,500) suspended.

The remaining players received total fines of 450,000 euros of which 390,000 euros was suspended. They cannot play in or attend any event organised by an international or national association, or coach in the professional game.

All six pleaded guilty to corruption charges in a Spanish court. Following the criminal proceedings, the ITIA have announced their own punishments.

ITIA CEO Johnny Gray said: “This is one of the most significant infiltrations of tennis by organised crime that we have seen. We welcome the involvement of law enforcement agencies and the prosecution of entire criminal networks, not just the players involved.

“This ruling sends a strong message that match fixing is a crime which can see criminal convictions. I must pay tribute to our investigations, intelligence and legal teams who have worked tirelessly over the last five years or so to bring this case to its conclusion.

“We also had excellent co-operation between the ITIA and Spanish law enforcement agencies, as well as the unswerving support of the tennis bodies. Finally, we are hugely grateful to the betting industry for their evidence, leading to these convictions.”

Chair Jennie Price added: “The conclusion of this long-term investigation is an important moment for tennis in its fight against corruption.

“Whilst we take no pleasure in seeing six individuals receive criminal convictions and bans, the message is clear: match fixing can lead to a jail sentence and can end your career in tennis. It also serves as a warning that organised crime is targeting sport, and governments and law enforcement agencies, as well as anti-corruption bodies in sport, need to take that threat seriously.”

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