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New tennis league takes steps to combat spot-fixing

Indian tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi attends a news conference in New Delhi May 23, 2007. REUTERS/Vijay Mathur
Indian tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi attends a news conference in New Delhi May 23, 2007. REUTERS/Vijay Mathur

By Toby Davis

PARIS (Reuters) - The founder of the soon to be launched International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) is planning to meet with the sport's integrity unit in London next month to try to insure the competition is not affected by illegal gambling and spot-fixing.

The league, due to start in late 2014, has been compared in format with cricket's Indian Premier League (IPL), a competition recently embroiled in a spot-fixing scandal.

Former India test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two other players were arrested along with 11 bookmakers last week on suspicion of spot-fixing in the ongoing Twenty20 league.

The IPTL will take place in six as yet undecided cities across Asia and will see some of the sport's biggest names drafted into teams to play against each other in one-set shootout tennis.

The competition's founder, Indian doubles specialist Mahesh Bhupathi, said they will do all they can to insure the league is unaffected by the problems that have tarnished cricket.

"I have some meetings with people who are part of the Tennis Integrity Unit in London next month," Bhupathi said in an interview with Reuters at the French Open in Paris.

"We will try and batten down as much as we can to insure we do not have these issues.

"It (illegal gambling and spot-fixing) is a huge issue in the IPL right now and we will do all we can to insure we have all the 'I's dotted and 'T's crossed."

Bhupathi said a number of cities were under consideration to form teams for the tennis league including Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta, Manilla, Bangalore, Calcutta, Doha and Dubai.

"There is a couple of important criteria, the first is that they have to have an international airport, security, stadium size, so we have a mandate," Bhupathi said.

"At the end of the day, we would like to spread it, ideally in the first year, I don't want to have two teams in India, even if there is demand because of the IPL success. As we grow, we plan to start with six and grow over time."

(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Martyn Herman)

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