The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has issued bans to seven Belgian players after a court ruled they were involved with a match-fixing syndicate in the country.
All seven players were found in breach of the ITIA Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP). As a result of their involvement in tennis match-fixing, they will serve bans of various lengths.
The players in question are Arnaud Graisse, Arthur de Greef, Julien Dubail, Romain Barbosa, Maxime Authom, Omar Salman and Alec Witmeur. All were convicted by a criminal court in Belgium and agreed sanctions with the ITIA.
The case relates to a Belgian match-fixing syndicate led by Grigor Sargsyan. The recent criminal case led to the conviction of Sargsyan, who was handed a five-year custodial sentence.
Described by the Washington Post as “the man who built the biggest match-fixing ring in tennis”, Sargsyan had traversed the globe since 2018 to build a network of more than 180 professional players across five continents.
As for the tennis players, three – Witmeur, de Greef and Barbosa – have been provisionally suspended since May 2021. This followed formal charges in the criminal process in Belgium, as they were active players at that time.
Witmeur admitted to six breaches of the TACP, while de Greef and Barbosa both admitted to nine breaches. They were each given lengthy bans, although time already served under the provisional suspension will be credited.
As such, de Greef, who had a career-high ATP tennis singles ranking of 113 in 2017, is suspended for three years and nine months. This will conclude on 26 February 2025, while he will also pay a fine of $45,000 (£36,770/€42,070).
Barbosa, whose highest ATP singles ranking was 403 in 2016, will be banned for five years and nine months, also to 26 February 2025. He has also been fined $45,000, although some $31,500 of this is suspended.
In addition, the ITIA said Witmeur’s suspension from tennis runs for two years and seven months to 26 December 2023. Witmeur, who hit a career-high ATP singles ranking of 1,056 in 2011, will also pay a $30,000 fine, with $21,000 suspended.
ITIA names other tennis players involved in match-fixing case
As for the other four tennis professionals, they were found guilty of multiple breaches of the TACP. Graisse was flagged for 12 breaches, Dubail nine and six each for Salman and Authom.
Each player will serve a suspension, with these again varying in length. Unranked Graisse will be banned for the longest, with the four years and 10 month suspension running through to 1 October 2028. He has also been fined $60,000, with $42,000 suspended.
Dubail, who reached a career-high ATP singles ranking of 371 in 2012, is banned for three years and nine months. This tennis suspension runs to 3 July 2027, while the sanction also includes a $45,000 fine, with $31,500 suspended.
Authom has been fined $30,000, although $21,000 of this is suspended. The player, whose highest ATP singles ranking of 143 came in 2013, will be banned for three years and nine months until 27 July 2027.
Finally, Salman, whose ATP singles peaked in 2018 with a ranking of 464, is suspended for two years and seven months. This runs through to 8 May 2026. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $30,000, with $21,000 suspended.
During the suspensions, the players are prohibited from playing in, coaching at, or attending any professional tennis event. These include competitions authorised or sanctioned by the members of the ITIA or any national association.
The ITIA adds that proceedings against players related to syndicate cases outside Belgium remain ongoing.