The player was released after being detained for a few hours on suspicion of having participated in the manipulation of a tennis match at the Roland Garros tournament in 2020. The incident, which according to the authorities continues to be investigated, is the second extra-sporting event to be carried out. He presents at this year’s French Open and joins the controversial retirement of player Naomi Osaka, arguing to preserve her mental health.
The last 48 hours for Yana Sizikova, a 26-year-old Russian tennis player, have been a torment. After falling in the first round of the women’s doubles at the 2021 French Open, where she paired up with fellow countrywoman Yekaterina Aleksándrova, against Australians Ajla Tomljanović and Storm Sanders in straight sets with a double six-one (6-1, 6- 1) had to spend the night under police surveillance.
According to the French media ‘Le Parisien’, Sizikova, was leaving a massage session after her match when she was arrested by officials of the Central Service of Racing and Games (SCCJ for its acronym in French) on suspicion of her alleged involvement in match fixing.
🔵 INFO LE PARISIEN | The joueuse russe Yana Sizikova, 26 years old, at the interpellee jeudi soir dans les via the Porte d’Auteuil
Elle est soupçonnée d’avoir lost volontairement a jeu dans le cadre de paris truquéshttps://t.co/WOczRJREwD
– Le Parisien (@le_Parisien) June 4, 2021
The investigation, which despite the release of the player continues, began in October 2020 shortly after the conclusion of the 2020 French Open, an edition that was delayed for a few months due to the pandemic.
At that time Sizikova, who was in her first participation in the French Open, paired with the American Madison Brengle to face the Romanians Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig, who prevailed in the match 7-6 and 6-4.
According to the French media version, the suspicions arose after betting companies noted that hundreds of thousands of euros had been wagered on an outage in the second set. Sizikova, during the game, committed two double faults and awarded a point to the Romanians, who were favorites, during the game.
On June 4, the Paris prosecutor’s office noted that Sizikova had been arrested on charges of “sports bribery and organized fraud”, but did not provide further details on the situation.
The AP news agency revealed that both the French Tennis Federation and the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) indicated that they could not offer more information about the case that was still ongoing.
Sizikova is surprised and her lawyer threatens to sue
The player’s lawyer, Frederic Belo, revealed to the Russian news agency ‘Tass’ that his client was “shocked” by the situation. “She rejects the charges of crimes that she has never committed (…) These accusations damage her reputation,” said her lawyer while threatening to sue for defamation.
“She is accused of sports corruption, which is punishable by five years in prison and a fine of 500,000 euros (…) She is also suspected of fraud as part of an organized group. According to this article, he could face up to five years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros, “added the lawyer.
Regarding the player’s situation, Belo indicated that she has no problems leaving France. “The detention was not prolonged. After his release, he received his passport and can leave French territory. No judicial control was imposed on him, and this shows once again that there are no serious grounds for suspicion against him,” added the lawyer to the Russian agency.
When questioned by the investigators, under the accompaniment of a Russian interpreter, the player denied having cheated and explained that the action for which she is accused (double fault) “can happen to any player, even the best, is tennis.” , he adds ‘Le Parisien’ in his text.
Yana Sizikova is currently ranked 765 in the world in the ranking of women’s singles, and her best position was obtained in 2016 when she placed 336. On the doubles circuit, she has only won one title (in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2019) and currently occupies position 101 of the ranking.
Corruption in tennis, a silent but growing scourge
Cases of match fixing in tennis are not new. According to the media ‘Point of Break’, specialized in tennis, this situation occurs due to “the difficulty of climbing the tennis chain”.
Given the increase in complaints about this scourge in sport, in 2008 the professional tennis associations (ITF, ATP, WTA) and the Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open) created the Unit of Tennis Integrity (TIU).
‘Le Parisien’ points out that in 2019 at least a score of players were banned from playing tennis on the grounds of suspicious bets. Additionally, the Colombian newspaper ‘El Tiempo’ points out that the cases of match fixing increased in 2020 due to the paralysis of discipline due to the pandemic.
“There are a lot of good people who go down and once you’re involved with the mafia, they don’t let you out. It snowballs bigger and bigger until the bomb explodes. I hope the virus crisis doesn’t make the players think again about falling into that. They would be ruined forever, “said Brazilian tennis player Bruno Soares to the media ‘La Nación’, quoted by ‘El Tiempo’.
Match fixes are recognized as a serious problem within the sport and various investigations have led to the life suspension of some players in professional tennis.
The accusations against Sizikova are now added to another extra-sports event that took place on the second day of the French Open, such as the retirement of the Japanese player, Naomi Osaka, under the argument of “preserving her mental health.”
With EFE, Reuters, AP and French media