Ban cheats: Navratilova

LONDON - Professional tennis players who lose matches on purpose or are involved in betting rackets should be banned for life, nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova said yesterday.

LONDON - Professional tennis players who lose matches on purpose or are involved in betting rackets should be banned for life, nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova said yesterday.

British newspaper reports said that tennis authorities will announce a clampdown on cheats on today's opening day of Wimbledon, after a recent report by tennis authorities that the sport was under threat from corruption.

Navratilova said action was vital to protect the sport's integrity.

"I don't think it's been going for very long, but it's really difficult to track," she told BBC television.

"The only way to really check on it is by betting patterns - and obviously there have been some betting patterns which are very disconcerting.

"I think the only way to really deal with it would be to make extremely severe penalties. And to me any player that would lose a match on purpose - they are done for life, lifetime ban."

The Independent on Sunday newspaper said the sport's governing bodies would implement wide-ranging measures to stamp out corruption, including three-year bans for players, with the possibility of extending them to life. Huge fines have also been mooted. - Sapa-AFP

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