The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has handed out further sanctions to a total of five players for their involvement in a match-fixing syndicate in Belgium. All of the players had breached the ITIA Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP) in relation to match-fixing, and as a result, they will now serve lengthy bans from the sport, with two individuals receiving life bans.
The sanctioned players include Alberto Rojas Maldonado, Christopher Díaz Figueroa, José Antonio Rodríguez Rodríguez, Antonio Ruiz Rosales, and Orlando Alcántara Rangel. These players will all serve bans due to their involvement in the match-fixing syndicate in Belgium, which was led by Grigor Sargsyan. Sargsyan was recently convicted in a criminal case and received a five-year custodial sentence following a joint effort between the ITIA and Belgian authorities.
Sargsyan is described as having traveled globally since 2018 to build a network of over 180 professional players across five continents, earning him the moniker “the man who built the biggest match-fixing ring in tennis” by the Washington Post.
The sanctions against the players vary in severity. Maldonado has received a lifetime ban from tennis and will pay a $250,000 fine for committing 92 breaches of the TACP. Figueroa, who reached a career-high singles ranking of 326 in 2011, has also been given a lifetime ban and a $75,000 fine for 13 TACP breaches. Rodríguez will serve a 12-year suspension and pay a $25,001 fine for eight breaches of the TACP, while Rosales will serve a 10-year ban and pay a $30,000 fine for seven breaches.
Rangel has been given a two-year suspension and a $10,000 fine for two breaches of the TACP. The bans handed out mean that the suspended players are prohibited from participating in, coaching at, or attending any tennis event sanctioned by members of the ITIA, including the ATP, ITF, WTA, Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open, or national associations.
This latest round of suspensions comes after the ITIA previously banned seven Belgian players who were involved with the same match-fixing syndicate. The players included Arnaud Graisse, Arthur de Greef, Julien Dubail, Romain Barbosa, Maxime Authom, Omar Salman, and Alec Witmeur, three of whom were provisionally suspended since May 2021.