October 19, 2010
Ted Forstmann, the head of IMG, admits that he bet on Roger Federer to win the 2007 French Open final but insists he received no illegal information from his management firm's client.
The billionaire was accused of using inside information to place the bet in a wide-ranging lawsuit filed last week. Federer strongly denied the accusation days later.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Forstmann claims he's the victim of extortion. He also admits that he spoke with Federer before the match in question, but not for illicit purposes:
[Records released to TMZ by the litigant] shows how Forstmann lost nearly $100,000 betting that Roger Federer would beat Rafael Nadal during the 2007 French Open. Both were IMG clients and Federer lost the match, but Agate claims in his lawsuit that Forstmann bet on Federer based on inside information stemming from a conversation the two had before the match.
"I might have called Roger before the match in 2007," Forstmann told me. "But Roger is a buddy of mine and all I would be doing is wishing him luck. How is that insider information?... Now somehow or another, I'm fixing the match." Forstmann added that he lost $40,000 betting on Federer. His press aide Mike Sitrick told me that the phone records released by Agate "may be bogus."
To say this is unethical would suggest there's some sort of virtue in betting on sports. Since there's not, I can't find anything wrong with Forstmann's actions, other than the conflict of interest in betting on his "buddy." By talking to Federer and then betting on him, Forstmann may be guilty of bad friendship, but nothing illegal.
Last week I mocked Forstmann's bet on Federer, but that was when it was reported that he bet on the 2006 final. In 2007, Nadal had lost to Federer in the finals of Hamburg, snapping his 81-match clay court winning streak. So while it's always foolish to bet against Nadal on clay, at least there was some reason to think Federer could possibly win at Roland Garros that year.
On an unrelated note, Forstmann is dating Padma Lakshmi, the beautiful host of "Top Chef."