Bulgarian Tennis Umpire Banned For Life After Match-Fixing

Bulgarian Tennis Umpire Banned For Life After Match-Fixing

by Nurein Ahmed

A national-level tennis umpire will no longer officiate matches after receiving a lifetime sanction from the tennis watchdog.

On Friday, April 19th, the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) issued a press release confirming that national-level umpire Pavel Atanasov has been banned for life.

Atanasov is guilty of committing up to 21 breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP), which was instituted to uphold the integrity of professional tennis by curbing corruption cases and addressing issues related to match-fixing.

In the last few months, cases of match-fixing have been widespread, with a large number of tennis players facing the wrath of the law. One of the long-running match-fixing syndicates led to the arrest of Belgium-based Armenian immigrant Grigor Sargsyan.

Players Sargsyan lured into his empire have since been sanctioned, although it only represents a fraction of what tennis authorities believe involved hundreds of people.

Although the latest news about Atanasov, a Bulgarian national-level official, is not related to Sargsyan, it only speaks of the inherent muck affecting the lower tiers of professional tennis, such that even tennis umpires collude in match-fixing.

Atanasov has also been penalized with a $10,000 fine in addition to his lifetime ban, which took effect on March 4th. He initially contested the charges of 21 violations of the TACP before he withdrew his right to a hearing in front of an INDEPT anti-corruption officer.

The ITIA noted that the official's offenses stemmed from 2019 to 2023 and included manipulating scoring data, encouraging betting, conspiring to commit corruption, and not reporting the corruption approaches to the authorities.

Atanasov has predominantly officiated at the $15,000 and $25,000 ITF tournaments in his native Bulgaria. However, with the ban taking effect, he will no longer be allowed to officiate or attend any tennis tournaments authorized by the members of the ITIA.


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