Italian Di Mauro banned for nine months for betting

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MILAN, Nov 10 (Reuters) Italy's Alessio Di Mauro has been banned for nine months after becoming the first professional to be caught in a betting crackdown, the ATP said today.

The world number 124, who made the Australian and French Open first rounds this year, has also been fined 60,000 dollars after an ATP probe launched in April found he wagered on other players' matches between Nov. 2, 2006 and June 12, 2007.

No attempt was made to fix results but an independent hearing officer decided he had committed an offence under the ATP anti-corruption programme.

He could have faced a maximum three-year suspension.

''This ruling underlines the ATP's stated policy of not tolerating players, associates or staff gambling on tennis,'' Gayle David Bradshaw, ATP's administrator of rules and competition said in a statement.

''The ATP requested that the maximum sentence be imposed and whilst we would have preferred a longer suspension, we recognise that the independent anti-corruption hearing officer has to administer sanctions related to the specifics of the case and not as a general prevention.

''This is the first player to be sanctioned under the programme and we found no evidence of any attempt by the player to bet on his own matches. We also found no evidence of any attempt to affect the outcome of any matches.'' An Italian Tennis Federation spokeswoman said Di Mauro had been found to have a personal online betting account.

Di Mauro gained a ranking high of 68 in February after reaching his first ATP final in Buenos Aires where he lost to Argentina's Juan Monaco.

Tennis is cracking down on betting after a troubled period for the sport.

A match in August between Russia's Nikolay Davydenko and lowly-ranked Argentine Martin Vassallo Arguello in Poland was voided by British online betting exchange Betfair because of unusual betting patterns.

Several players have since said they had turned down offers to throw a match in exchange for money.

REUTERS RAR BD1910

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