International Tennis Integrity Agency bans seven Belgian players for match-fixing

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has revealed that seven Belgian players have been suspended for breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP).

The suspensions are related to a criminal case in Belgium involving a match-fixing syndicate, which resulted in its Armenian leader, Grigor Sargsyan, receiving a five-year custodial sentence. It is believed that Sargsyan, living in Brussels, had a network of more than 180 professional players. He promised them more money than they could win by playing. 

Examples of match-fixing include asking to lose the first 2 service games, making double faults, and anything where people could bet on. As per a Washington Post report, gambling on tennis has skyrocketed into a $50 billion industry, with Sargsyan seeking to capitalize on this growing market.

Seven players from Belgium – Arnaud Graisse, Arthur de Greef, Julien Dubail, Romain Barbosa, Maxime Authom, Omar Salman, and Alec Witmeur – have been convicted and sanctions have been agreed with the ITIA.

These players will be required to pay a fine and some degree of suspension, during which time they will not be permitted to play in, coach at, or attend any tennis tournament sanctioned by the ITIA. This includes all ATP, WTA, and ITF events, as well as Grand Slams.

Longest suspension lasting until 2028

A statement from the ITIA reveals the extent of each player’s fine and suspension, with the longest one lasting until 2028Three players – Witmeur, Barbosa, and de Greef – have been provisionally suspended since May 2021, which was when they were formally charged. Therefore, their time served since then will be credited against their current suspension.

The most popular and formerly highest-ranked of these players is de Greef, who reached a career-high ranking of 113 on the ATP Tour, and has been given a suspension of three years and nine months, along with a $45,000 fine.

Barbosa, former world no. 403, has received the same punishment, while Witmeur, former world no. 1056, was suspended for two years and seven months, along with a $30,000 fine. While Witmeur’s suspension will end on December 26, 2023, de Greef and Barbosa will be ineligible until February 26, 2025

Graisse, not ranked in the ATP Rankings, received a $60,000 fine along with a 58-month suspension, and former world no. 371 Dubail was suspended for three years and nine months, while he received a $45,000 fine. He will be ineligible to play until July 3rd, 2027.

Authom, also one of the higher-ranked players, with his career-high being 143rd place, was suspended for three years and nine months and got a $30,000 fine. His suspension will end on July 27th, 2027.

Salman, former world no. 464, received the same fine, with the shortest suspension –  two years and seven months ending on May 8th, 2026. 

The ITIA stated that this concludes their proceedings against Belgian players in regard to the match-fixing syndicate, although cases involving players from outside the country are still ongoing.