Austrian player banned for life for match-fixing

Austria’s Daniel Koellerer became the first tennis player
Tuesday to be banned for life for attempting to fix matches.

Koellerer, a former Davis Cup player who once reached No. 55 in
the world rankings, was found guilty of three violations of the
sport’s anti-corruption rules, including ”contriving or attempting
to contrive the outcome of an event.”

The violations occurred between October 2009 and July 2010.

The Tennis Integrity Unit, an anti-corruption group, launched an
investigation on behalf of the International Tennis Federation and
the ATP and WTA tours. It would not specify which matches Koellerer
was found to have manipulated.

Koellerer, who also was fined $100,000, denied the charges and
is considering whether to appeal.

”This is a giant shock … I have been charged with approaching
other players to fix matches,” he told Austrian radio station ORF
Oe3. ”I have been accused of asking other players to lose their
match. That’s total nonsense.”

Koellerer’s manager, Manfred Nareyka, told ORF the player ”has
been found guilty of fixing two matches involving other players and
one match of his own,” but declined to reveal further details.

The Austrian tennis federation said it hadn’t received any
official confirmation regarding the sanctions imposed on Koellerer,
who is currently ranked No. 385.

”If the sanctions … become legal, the federation will take
appropriate measures on national level,” the Austrian body
said.

Koellerer, nicknamed ”Crazy Dani,” turned professional in 2002
and soon was suspended by the ATP twice for bad behavior on court –
in 2004 and ’06. On the second occasion, he was banned for six
months.

In August 2010, Koellerer and Nareyka were placed on two years’
probation after the player’s personal website listed odds for
matches and had links to sites for placing bets. At that time,
Koellerer and Nareyka admitted breaking rules about ”facilitating
betting.”

The tennis anti-corruption group said Tuesday the latest
findings came following a separate investigation.

Koellerer climbed to a career-best No. 55 after reaching the
third round at the 2009 U.S. Open and won six titles on the
lower-ranked Challenger circuit. He never won an ATP Tour
event.

Koellerer played Davis Cup for Austria once but lost his singles
matches during the team’s 3-2 win over Slovakia in 2010.

Tuesday’s findings were considered at an independent
anti-corruption hearing in London on April 27-28, the details of
which will not be released.

Russian player Nikolay Davydenko was cleared in 2008 of any
wrongdoing following an investigation by the ATP into suspicious
betting patterns surrounding his match against 87th-ranked Martin
Vassallo Arguello the previous year.

Among the lower-ranked players sanctioned by the ATP in recent
years for betting on matches were five Italians – Potito Starace,
Daniele Bracciali, Alessio Di Mauro, Giorgio Galimberti and
Federico Luzzi – who were given suspensions ranging from six weeks
to nine months between 2007-08. Late French player Mathieu
Montcourt was also banned for two months in 2008.

Associated Press Writer Eric Willemsen in Vienna contributed to
this report.