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TOKYO: Japan's Junn Mitsuhashi has cast a shadow over Japanese tennis after getting banned for life for match-fixing offences, a senior official said Wednesday.

The 27-year-old was booted out of the sport and fined $50,000 after being found guilty of offering money for players to underperform and breaking gambling rules by placing 76 bets on matches in 2015.

Mitsuhashi, a former junior doubles partner of Japanese star Kei Nishikori who peaked at 295 in the world singles rankings in 2009, also failed to cooperate with a Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) investigation into the allegations, also a serious breach of protocol.

Japan Tennis Association managing director Tsuyoshi Fukui said Mitsuhashi's case would force stricter education of players.

"It's honestly extremely sad," Fukui told reporters.

"We do warn players and coaches against getting involved in match-fixing but clearly we need to do more.

"We need to take tougher steps to make sure the players are given more detailed information about the dangers at stake."

Mitsuhashi asked Joshua Chetty to approach another player about fixing a match at an ITF Futures tournament in South Africa in November 2015, according to the TIU.

The sport's anti-corruption body said Mitsuhashi had offered Chetty -- himself banned for life last September following a separate probe -- $2,000 for a singles match and $600 for a doubles match.

Mitsuhashi was also found guilty of making similar advances in Lagos the following month.

Japan tennis officials added that they would look to quiz players about any potential incidents they had encountered at the earliest convenience.

Although relatively uncommon, Japan has not been immune to cases of corruption or doping which have resulted in lengthy bans.

Its professional baseball league has been rocked by arrests over betting scandals while the image of Japan's ancient sport of sumo has long been tarnished by claims of match-fixing and links to organised crime.

Last year, badminton gold medal hope Kento Momota was kicked off Japan's Rio Olympic team for gambling at an illegal casino.

In one of the most unusual Japanese doping-relating cases in recent years, rugby player Ryohei Yamanaka was dropped for the 2011 World Cup and banned for two years for failing a drugs test after taking a hair product to help grow a moustache.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2017




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