October 14, 2010
A lawsuit filed against Roger Federer's management company alleges that the head of the firm bet on a tennis match after receiving inside information from Federer.
According to TMZ, the explosive allegation was contained in a lawsuit against IMG, the biggest sports management company in the world. Filed by a printing company associated with IMG, the lawsuit states that IMG owner Theodore Forstmann made millions of dollars of bets through the small company and then left them on the hook for tax liabilities and losses.
Federer is mentioned as specifically giving Forstmann inside information before his 2006 French Open final against Rafael Nadal. In the suit, it's alleged that Forstmann increased his bet from $10,000 to $40,000 after speaking with Federer. It isn't specified what Federer allegedly said to Forstmann, nor is Federer directly accused of any wrongdoing.
On Thursday, Federer forcefully responded to the allegations:
"If it were a different player, I would hope that it's obviously not true, but because it involves my name, somewhere out there, I know it's 100% not true. So I'm pretty relaxed about this because I'm hoping complete honesty for the sport, leave the game better off [inaudible] when I play when I arrive to the sport even though it was already a great type of form I had, and the last thing I would do is harm the sport and create a negative light on our sport, so it's disappointing that someone's throwing my name around, I would never do such a thing, the fans know that and the people who know me know that, so I have nothing to hide and I'm sorry for those who think there's something to this story."
A few thoughts:
• Until any proof surfaces otherwise, we should consider this accusation to be nothing more than that, an accusation. TMZ has already reported that the owner of the printing company has admitted to spreading falsehoods about Forstmann in the past. This could be (and probably is) much ado about nothing.
• Maybe I'm naive and Federer's goal was to get into tennis and to establish trust by becoming the most decorated player of all time, just so he could get some inside info to help a millionaire make some extra scratch on the side. Hey, it's possible.
• What sort of inside information would anyone have needed in the 2006 French Open final? Nadal was on a 59-match winning streak on clay. He was the defending champion. My niece, who was two months old at the time, could have picked the winner. I doubt there was much info to get.
• A caveat to that last one, though: In that French Open match, Federer won the first set 6-1. Nadal won the second set by the same score. Make of that what you will. I choose to make nothing of it. Nadal swept after dropping the first.
• Even if the accusation of Federer giving inside info is true, it doesn't necessarily mean he was knowingly giving insider information to a gambler. Forstmann is the head of IMG. When he calls, you answer, even if you're Tiger Woods or Roger Federer. What's wrong with telling the head of the biggest sports management in the world that you're feeling good before a match?
• I don't believe for one second that Roger Federer did anything wrong and neither should you.