Tennis Faces 'Elephant in the Room'

"All professional sport needs a level playing field in order to maintain its appeal and integrity," de Villiers said. "This is especially true for tennis which is a one-on-one gladiatorial contest."

Despite the swirl of scandal, tennis' top officials say they are ahead of the curve in policing their sport, setting up an anti-corruption program in 2003 that toughened penalties, raising the possibility of lifetime bans.

ATP spokesman Kris Dent said an unspecified number of incidents have been investigated under the policy, and implied serious allegations have not panned out.

"No player has been sanctioned under the anti-corruption program," Dent said. "We don't think we have a corruption problem in the sport."

As the online betting industry became more popular, the ATP also has enlisted the online betting companies to flag them on possible betting irregularities, as Betfair did on the Davydenko-Arguello match.

For the current investigation, the ATP also has called upon the expertise of the British Horseracing Authority, and is using independent investigators.

But some have questioned why investigators evidently won't be questioning Davydenko until after the China Open, which ends Sept. 16.

"He will be interviewed when the investigative body feels it is the right time to investigate," de Villiers said Friday. "These are very experienced investigators who feel they need to have as much information as they need before they go and interview somebody."

The organization that runs the U.S. Open also claims it has boosted its vigilance against the threat of gambling.

Specifically, the USTA has e-mailed details of its "zero-tolerance policy" to players and officials, highlighted the policy at mandatory meetings with players, officials and others, and posted signs about the policy in key locations. The USTA also has hired SafirRosetti, the corporate security firm that includes Howard Safir, a former New York City Police commissioner, to patrol the U.S. Open grounds and watch for problems.

"Nothing could be worse for a professional sport than to be caught up in a gambling scandal," said Chris Widmaier, a spokesman for the USTA. "This does go to the integrity of the game. We take it very seriously, and we will continue to do that. But I'd like to reiterate that we don't think it's a problem.

"I believe in the integrity of the players," he added. "I'll tell you what: I think that anybody who makes it into the manger of the U.S. Open is in it to win it."

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