Russian tennis player Yana Szykova has been arrested at the French Open for questioning in a match-fixing investigation that has cast a shadow over one of the sport’s most important tournaments.
A French tennis federation official confirmed the arrest of the French police and said an investigation was underway.
The Paris public prosecutor’s office told the Associated Press news agency that a player was arrested Thursday night in connection with “acts likely to have been committed in September 2020”. A person familiar with the matter told the Financial Times that the allegations related to match-fixing.
Her lawyer, Frederic Bellot, told Reuters that Czykova was released on Friday.
Last September, French prosecutors opened an investigation into “organized group” fraud and “active and passive corruption” over match-fixing in a women’s doubles match at the 2020 French Open.
The investigation related to a match between the Romanian duo Andrea Mito, Patricia Maria Teague, Cizikova and American Madison Pringle. The Romanians won the match before being knocked out in the third round.
Bilott explained that Sizikova and her doubles partner allegedly lost a service game on purpose, with the Russian sending double fouls.
He added that Cezikova contacted the tennis authorities last year and gave them an explanation saying he was “satisfied” with them.
“So it’s frank and in the best possible state of mind that Yana Cizikova will go to Paris a week ago to play in the 2021 French Open Women’s Doubles,” Bilott said.
“She and her father were very shocked when she was arrested.”
Cizikova, 26, ranks 101 in the world in doubles and 765 in singles competition. Over the course of her career, she’s won $206,617 in award money, according to the Women’s Tennis Association.
She and her doubles partner exited the French Open in the first round on Thursday, losing in straight sets.
A person close to that organization said the International Tennis Integrity Agency, the sport’s anti-corruption watchdog, could get a temporary suspension once the player is charged. The source said the body, set up by sports management bodies, had discussed the situation with the French police.
In May, Kazakh tennis player Roman Khasanov was suspended for 10 years after admitting to violating anti-corruption rules. In January, the ITIA banned Russian players for life following a match-fixing investigation.
In 2016, Novak Djokovic, the best men’s singles player in the world rankings, talked about how to do it reject approach To intentionally lose a match as a teenager.
Tennis and soccer are the two sports most targeted by criminals, according to Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, which has warned that financial stresses from the coronavirus pandemic in sport and the broader economy may increase the risk of corruption.
Last August, Europol warned of an increase in match-fixing schemes unearthed in tennis, with Eurasian organized crime groups “heavyly involved” in the sport.
Evidence indicates that nearly 500 tennis matches were rigged between 2014 and 2018, according to the enforcement agency. Match players can attempt to manipulate the outcome of a match, individual group, game, or serve.
Sezikova’s arrest is the latest controversy at this year’s French Open, one of the sport’s four major events. Earlier this week, second place Naomi Osaka withdrew From the event citing mental health issues after a row over press conferences.