MELBOURNE, Australia — At the announcement of an independent review into the tennis anticorruption program on Wednesday, Chris Kermode, chairman of the Association of Tennis Professionals, pledged that tennis would do more than a hollow internal inquiry.
“All of us, all seven bodies in our sport, believe that with everything in the news and the serious allegations that have been thrown at our sport, the last thing anyone wants is another sports body investigating itself, which is why we have taken this very bold step to commission a completely independent review,” Mr. Kermode said.
Mr. Kermode was referring to the corruption inquiries by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, and the International Association of Athletics Federations, track and field’s oversight group.
Complete independence, though, may be a matter of interpretation. Adam Lewis, the London-based lawyer appointed to lead the review, has worked extensively for many organizations inside tennis and for others closely connected to the sport.
According to Mr. Lewis’s résumé, his past clients include the International Tennis Federation, the Grand Slam Committee, the Lawn Tennis Association (the governing body for the sport in the United Kingdom) and the All England Club, which hosts the Wimbledon Championships. He has also worked for several companies strongly tied to tennis, including IMG, Octagon and Nike.
Mr. Lewis has also represented tennis players in cases against the International Tennis Federation. He represented Richard Gasquet in a 2009 case in which Gasquet successfully reduced the penalty for his positive cocaine test by arguing that he had kissed a girl who had used the drug. Mr. Lewis also represented Mariano Puerta, who tested positive for a cardiac stimulant after reaching the 2005 French Open final.
Mr. Lewis has also been involved with the Tennis Integrity Unit, the sport’s small internal watchdog, which he is now charged with reviewing. Mr. Lewis’s résumé provides no detail about this work except to note that the case occurred in 2012. Nigel Willerton, director of the Tennis Integrity Unit, said he could not recall Lewis’s being involved in any case. Mr. Willerton said Mr. Lewis might have held an advisory role in a matter Mr. Willerton was not aware of.
Mr. Lewis’s firm, Blackstone Chambers, said he would not comment on any matters related to his appointment, including clarification of his past work.
The announcement of an independent review came after the Australian Open, which concluded Sunday, was overshadowed by media reports of match fixing in the sport. A joint report by the British Broadcasting Corporation and Buzzfeed published at the start of the tournament rehashed cases from 2008, before the integrity unit was formed. The report said the integrity unit was negligent in pursuing subsequent cases fully, but Mr. Kermode; Philip Brook, the chairman of the All England Club at Wimbledon; and other top officials defended the unit’s work.
The Australian Open itself was then ensnared in the discussion when The New York Times reported Jan. 24 that an obscure first-round mixed-doubles match had raised concerns of fixing because of an abnormal volume of bets for one side. Pinnacle, the bookmaker, ultimately suspended bets 13 hours before the match pitting Lara Arruabarrena and David Marrero against Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation later reported that 19 other bookmakers had also suspended wagers on the match, and that Marrero, a player on the losing end, had already appeared on a “blacklist” of suspicious players compiled by betting houses.
Mr. Brook, who is serving this year in the rotating position of chairman of the Tennis Integrity Board, said at the announcement of the review that he believed the tide of negative news about the sport’s integrity was more perception than reality.
“We have to repair the damage that’s been done,” Mr. Brook said. “But we also recognize that we can improve. Every organization can improve. We must ask for an independent review to help us with looking from the outside at what we do and to see how, and in what way, the unit can be strengthened.”
Mr. Brook said that there had been a handful of candidates to lead the review, but that Mr. Lewis “came out as our preferred choice.”
Experts in sports law, however, were divided over Mr. Lewis’s selection.Scott Rosner, the faculty associate director at the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, said hiring a reviewer who is “indeed truly independent both in perception and reality” would have been preferable.
“While the fact that this highly qualified attorney has represented the client in a previous matter does not necessarily render him unable to issue a truly independent opinion,” Mr. Rosner said, “it does raise issues surrounding his perceived ability to do so.”
This perception “in and of itself would make it preferable for the authorities to consider someone else,” Mr. Rosner said.
Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Program, was more satisfied with the choice.
“I view his legal experience in the tennis industry and the sports world more broadly as a tremendous positive,” Mr. Feldman said of Mr. Lewis. “This will be an immensely complicated international investigation that requires knowledge of the inner workings of the tennis federations, tournaments and players as well as an understanding of gambling and corruption issues in sports. Mr. Lewis’s background provides him with expertise in all of these areas.”
However, close ties such as Mr. Lewis’s have been viewed unfavorably by some in similar situations in other sports. For example, there was some disapproval of the selection of Ted Wells, who had served as a frequent legal counsel for the N.F.L., to lead the inquiry into the Deflategate scandal involving the New England Patriots. And George Mitchell, who led an investigation into performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, faced scrutiny for his role as a director of the Boston Red Sox.
David W. Larkin, a lawyer focusing on international sports law, said the selection of Mr. Lewis might not have been the best idea.
“In this case, tennis authorities seem to suggest that a person who appears to have previously represented some of them is independent and the right person for the job,” Mr. Larkin said. “In light of the some of the lessons taught by judicial and legal history, I would respectfully disagree.”