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Lifelong ban for tennis rebel

A wayward tennis player accused by colleagues of "terrorising" them has been banned for life from the sport.

The international ATP Tour’s Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) committee informed Daniel Köllerer yesterday (Tues) that he must not perform as a player anymore in his life. Köllerer was also banned from working as a coach.

The former Davis Cup player is accused of trying to manipulate matches. Köllerer attempted to get opponents not to give their best, according to investigations by the TIU. The committee said its verdict was based on three confirmed cases of attempted match-fixing.

Köllerer – who was also fined 100,000 US dollars (69,000 Euros) – said today he did not breach any rules. He said: "I’m against cheating as much as I oppose doping and taking drugs. The accusations brought forward against my person are utter nonsense."

Köllerer said he planned to appeal the verdict "because it means an employment ban for me."

Austrian sport newspapers report that the 27-year-old also broke ATP regulations by setting up hyperlinks leading to the websites of sport betting companies on his homepage.

Fellow Austrian tennis players found harsh words for their disgraced colleague.

"I don’t care whether he’s playing or not, but he has terrorised the ATP and the players long enough with his behaviour," Martin Slanar said.

Martin Fischer, who was called to the witness stand by the TUI, said: "It seems there was enough evidence. I think they (the TUI) did some proper research. I doubt that innocents are penalised – I’m sure he (Köllerer) knows that."

The Austrian Tennis Association (ÖTV) said it has not yet been informed officially be the TUI, but made clear that it was intending to issue sanctions on national level if Köllerer’s wrongdoing is confirmed by an appeal panel.

The Upper Austrian had been fined and temporarily banned from competing in ATP tour events several times over the past years. He came under fire for verbally abusing a ball-boy and other players accused him of having made racist remarks. Austrian Stefan Koubek strangled Köllerer on court during a match last year after feeling offended by statements made by the now banned player.

Köllerer, who claimed today that the TIU has "no evidence" in the case against him, was listed 55th best player in the world in October 2009 before plummeting out of the top 300. Having gone under the knife following a wrist injury half a year ago, he most recently tried to launch a comeback in semi-professional and amateur tournaments.

Meanwhile, Austria’s number one tennis player suffered a bitter second-round defeat in the French Open in Paris. Jürgen Melzer lost against Czech Lukas Rosol in five sets (7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-7, 4-6) last Thursday. The top 10 player suffered from back pains for days before crashing out against the ATP’s number 111 player in a match that lasted nearly four hours. Melzer, 30, will now drop in the world ranking since he reached the semi final of last year’s French Open.

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