Japan Tennis Association executive members said that the lifetime ban on Junn Mitsuhashi completely came out of the blue.
“We had not had any previous contact (with the Tennis Integrity Unit),” JTA managing director Tsuyoshi Fukui said at a news conference at Tokyo’s Kishi Memorial Hall on Wednesday evening.
JTA press officer Nobutaka Hatta said that he received an email from the TIU at 3:50 p.m. on Tuesday to notify the nation’s tennis governing body that the 27-year-old player had been banned and fined $50,000 for match-fixing.
JTA executive Hajime Takahashi echoed Fukui’s comments by saying, “We had not been asked for inquiry or whatsoever (from the TIU for its investigation).”
Mitsuhashi had not renewed his JTA registration after 2015 so he had no longer been under the umbrella of the sport’s governing body in Japan. Yet Takahashi said that it is regrettable that it happened to a Japanese player and that the news was reported around the world.
Takahashi added that the JTA would need to reinforce preventive measures and educate the players. He continued that the association would also raise awareness for players that are outside of the JTA umbrella, such as junior players as well.
Since last spring, the JTA has taken precautionary measures for Japanese players, reminding them of the code of conduct and to avoid getting involved in any scandals. These steps include holding lectures and ordering players to take online training.
But match-fixing has become a growing concern globally in tennis over the last couple of years, and Fukui said that the association had never thought it was “someone else’s affair” that would not happen to a Japanese player.
“We’ve always had a sense of danger,” said Fukui, who formerly served as a head coach for the Japan national team for multiple Olympics. “We’ve constantly told others at the JTA and national team coaches that it could happen to us.”
Hatta said that the JTA attempted to reach Mitsuhashi, who was born in Britain, and his family by calling and sending emails since the news broke, but no response has been received.
Hatta added that he had confirmed that Mitsuhashi’s family runs a business in Vietnam.
The TIU announced on Tuesday in a statement that Mitsuhashi has been “found guilty of breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program,” which included “making corrupt approaches to other players, betting on tennis matches and refusing to cooperate” with a TIU investigation.
According to the TIU report, Mitsuhashi, who was ranked as high as No. 295 for singles in 2009, placed 76 bets on matches in October and November in 2015.
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