PARIS – A French chair umpire on the futures and challenger tours became the first official to be suspended for corruption by the Tennis Integrity Unit when he received a life ban on Tuesday.
The charges against 22-year-old Morgan Lamri breached four articles of the TIU's anti-corruption program in 2012 and 2013. These involve attempts to influence the outcome of an event, to "facilitate any player not to use his or her best efforts," and to "wager or attempt to wager" on the outcome of a match.
Lamri said he won't appeal the sanction. He denied corruption, but told The Associated Press in a phone interview that he bet on matches he was not involved in.
"I can't believe they decided I am guilty without even hearing me," said Lamri, who did not cooperate with investigators.
A modest tennis player who also served as a line judge at the French Open and the Monte Carlo Masters, Lamri would not give precise details of the case, which he said dates to the Saint-Raphael future tournament in February 2013. He has not officiated in any event since.
"Apparently, they were reproaching me with hanging out with the players there," he said. "But they are just friends, nothing more. We were having lunch, no one can blame me for that. They maybe thought I was arranging matches."
Lamri said he refused to hand over copies of his bank accounts to the TIU investigators interested in possible suspicious money transfers.
Lamri, who was relieved not to be given a fine in addition to his life ban, admitted to betting on big tennis matches but never on matches he officiated.
"Like any other French guy, I placed bets for fun, between euro 1.50 and 125, this is not much," Lamri said. "I was betting when big players were involved, guys like (Tomas) Berdych for example."
The TIU was formed in 2008 by the ATP and WTA tours, the ITF and the Grand Slam Committee.