Whistleblower gets support weeks after saying he was “used”
LONDON (AP) — Marco Trungelliti has received support from the Tennis Integrity Unit more than two weeks after he complained that he’d been “used” and felt abandoned after acting as a witness in the prosecution of three fellow Argentinian players who subsequently received bans for gambling-related activities.
In a statement Wednesday, the TIU said it usually protects the identity of witnesses but it understands that Trungelliti has subsequently been subject to strong personal criticism and that his motives for co-operating with anti-corruption officials have been questioned.
“At all times, Mr. Trungelliti has acted with the highest level of integrity and with the best interests of the sport in mind. His courageous and principled stand against those who seek to corrupt is to be admired and commended,” the TIU statement said, adding that it wanted to “to place on record its appreciation of his support and full compliance.”
In an interview last month with The Associated Press, the 29-year-old Trungelliti said his whistleblowing testimony had greatly affected him and his family. He said the price of his honesty had been rejection by other players and stress that hurt his health and his game.
Trungelliti also said he felt he’d been left out to dry by tennis administrators and their investigators.
“They just used me,” he told the AP in April. “They just dropped me in the middle of the sea. It was a disaster, disaster. In my opinion, it was one of the worst procedures that I have ever seen. I’m still paying the price.”
Trungelliti was the key witness in a match-fixing probe that resulted in the three Argentines being sanctioned. Best known of the three was Nicolas Kicker, at No. 84, the highest-ranked player convicted so far of fixing matches.
The Tennis Integrity Unit announced Kicker’s guilt just three days before the French Open, where he had been preparing to play.
Kicker was banned for six years, but with three of those years suspended provided there’s no further breaches of the anti-corruption code. Patricio Heras was banned for five years, with two suspended. Federico Coria was banned for eight months, with six months suspended.
Trungelliti said he had repeatedly contacted the Tennis Integrity Unit, asking without success for it to defend him. That defense finally came Wednesday.
Trungelliti told the AP that match-fixing was an open secret in the game and getting worse.
“It’s not just the players’ problem,” he said. “There are a lot of coaches involved. A lot. A lot. More than we think.
“If you are weak mentally, then you go in, you are all in, for sure, because it’s easy money.”