August 7, 2007
Russian star needs to come up with answers
By JODY VANCE -- Sun Media
After a weekend when Barry Bonds tied Hank Aaron with home run No. 755, Alex Rodriguez became the youngest to hit 500 homers, Tom Glavine became just the 23rd Major League pitcher to notch 300 wins, David Beckham came to Toronto and Tiger won -- again -- you would think that I would write about one of them, but not being one for predictability, I choose, instead, to vent.
Likely lost amidst the high-octane headlines, the world of men's tennis is being rocked right now amid accusations one of their mainstays could be involved in match-fixing.
ATP executives have launched a full "independent external" investigation to look into suspicious betting on a match involving Nikolay Davydenko at the Polish Open in Sopot.
British online bookmaker, Betfair, caught a flood of wagers on the Russian's opponent, No. 87 Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina, to win. Such support for the Argentine, obviously the underdog in the second-round match, made this reek of "the fix."
In an unprecedented move, Betfair voided all of the almost US$7 million in wagers -- 10 times the typical amount bet on such a match -- mid-match and watched as Davydenko, leading two sets to none, retired in the third with an injured left toe.
This has me flashing back to Olympic ice dancing -- but at least that scandal was a corrupt judge, not an athlete, "throwing" a match.
It should come as no surprise that Davydenko and his agent are "flabbergasted" by the accusation he was in any way involved.
When it comes right down to it, only the player himself knows whether the toe was a reason enough to retire or if it was a few bucks waved in front of his nose that caused such pain. I'll keep you posted as this investigation unfolds, but don't hold your breath.
Almost impossible to prove, this is not the first time "irregular betting" has been flagged in tennis; in fact, it has happened twice in recent years but neither resulted in charges being laid.
Am I naive to simply want to witness good, clean, honest competition? It seems everywhere we turn there is some sort of scandal, doping, cheating or fixing going on.
I just hope we never see the day when all of our beloved games become no more spontaneous or rooted in reality than the WWE.
Jody Vance is a sportscaster with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursday in 24 hours.