ITIA Bans More Tennis Players as the Sport Continues To Deal With Match-fixing

It’s difficult enough to place wagers on sports, but athletes manipulating the outcome by fixing matches makes things worse. As integrity bodies continue to accumulate data, it becomes easier to uncover the activity, and two more tennis players have fallen from grace for their willingness to rig games.

Bárbara Gatica Avilés
Bárbara Gatica Avilés
Chilean tennis pro Bárbara Gatica Avilés reacts on the court during a match. She admitted to rigging a match, which has resulted in a suspension until 2025. (Image: El Desconcierto)

The International Agency for the Integrity of Tennis (ITIA) has reported that it expelled Chilean tennis player Bárbara Gatica Avilés from the sport for three years. In addition, it has taken similar action against Chinese player Baoluo Zheng, although her punishment is shorter.

The two cases aren’t related, and the ITIA was able to determine what occurred by following a few pieces of evidence. While they’ll both be able to return to the sport, their reputations will never be the same.

Chile Has An Integrity Problem

The 26-year-old Chilean player received her punishment after she admitted to breaking the rules of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP). The charges date back to a match six years ago. At the time, Gatica was ranked 158th in the WTA rankings, and took a dive in exchange for money.

The ITIA found her guilty on several counts. Through her own admission, it charged her with manipulating the outcome of a match and specifically doing so for sports betting purposes. In addition, she was guilty of accepting money in return for her actions.

The sanction means that she cannot play or attend any tennis event the governing bodies organize. Her exile began on December 9 and runs through December 8, 2025. She will also have to pay a fine of $5,000.

This is Gatica’s second suspension of the year after she tested positive for doping in June. In tests during a tournament in April in Colombia, officials founder Boldenone in her system. This, according to the USADA, is an anabolic androgenic steroid and synthetic derivative of testosterone, and it appears on the list of prohibited products of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Although Gatica appealed the suspension, it was denied by the president of the independent court, William Norris, on Friday, June 17. At the time, she was the highest-seeded Chilean female player, but lost her chance at participating in Wimbledon.

This isn’t the first time a Chilean tennis player has been in this situation. Michel Vernier Quinteros received a ban of over seven years this past July for his match-fixing side hustle. In addition, in September, a coach received a lifetime ban for rigging at least 88 matches.

Chile isn’t alone, however. A number of tennis players from Spain are standing trial for their deception and fraud.

Zheng Gets A Slap On The Wrist

The 21-year-old Zheng, ranked 526th, received her sanction for similar reasons as Gatica. The ITIA determined that she was guilty of violating the rules of the TACP by offering a rival player money if she would throw a match they played in Egypt this past October.

Because Zheng admitted her involvement, the ITIA didn’t hold a hearing to reach its outcome. It hit her with a nine-month suspension and a fine of $5,000; however, it suspended $2,000 of it.

The sanction began on October 27, the day of the match, and will run through July 26 of next year. Zheng won’t be able to play or attend any official tennis event during that time.

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