World #84 Nicolas Kicker found guilty of match fixing
World No. 84 Nicolas Kicker was at Roland Garros on Thursday, preparing for the French Open, when he was informed that he had been found guilty of fixing a pair of Challenger matches in 2015.
Instead of playing in the first round in Paris, Kicker will thus be unable to participate in any professional tennis event while he waits for sentencing to be handed down. His punishment is likely to be about as severe as they come.
According to a statement from the Tennis Integrity Unit, “Kicker, 25, was found guilty of contriving the outcome of a match at the ATP Challenger tournament in Padova, Italy, in June 2015 and a match at the ATP Challenger tournament in Baranquilla, Colombia, in September 2015.
He was also found guilty of failing to report a corrupt approach and of not co-operating with a TIU investigation into the allegations made against him.”
This is a significant victory for the TIU, which has been criticised for failing to make an impact at the higher end of the game.
Kicker is the 37th player to be sanctioned since the unit was set up in 2008, and his career-best ranking of No. 78 has only been surpassed by one of those: Daniel Koellerer of Austria, who continues to proclaim his innocence.
Kicker’s loss to Giovanni Lapentti in Barranquilla in 2015 has long been the subject of debate. There is a video on YouTube, watched more than 47,000 times, which shows him hitting double-faults feebly into the net.
Were these images not enough to raise suspicion, the movement of the odds – as documented by the betting expert Ian Dorward at the time in a telling blog – was completely inexplicable by any means other than inside knowledge.
According to Dorward, more than £700,000 was matched on Betfair on the match market.
It is worth noting, as we await the punishment imposed by anti-corruption hearing officer Jane Mulcahy QC, that ten of the previous sanctioned players – including Koellerer – received life bans.