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Japan dogged by fixing claims
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Japan tennis officials will launch a probe into comments by Akiko Morigami that a national coach asked her to throw a doubles match at the French Open.

Morigami said a national team coach had asked her to deliberately lose the match as a defeat would boost partner Aiko Nakamura's chances of qualifying for the Beijing Olympics by freeing her up for a tournament this week.

"At this stage we are not really clear on who said what, but we will investigate the incident," Japan Tennis Association (JTA) managing director Koji Watanabe said yesterday. "If it turns out a national coach did say that then it's a matter for the (JTA's) technical committee. It would be dangerous to make any decision before we have established the facts."

French Open organizers also plan to probe Morigami's comments after a 0-6, 1-6 first round defeat by Chinese Taipei's Chan Yung-jan and Chuang Chia-jung in Paris last Friday. The IOC said it would not comment until it had all the details of the story.

"It wasn't Nakamura's coach who said it," Morigami told Japanese media. "It was a different coach. I was angry because it's not something you say to a player before a match."

The Japanese No. 2 insisted she and Nakamura had tried their best despite their capitulation at Roland Garros.

"I'm sorry for the trouble my remarks have caused," Morigami said on her official blog. "But there should be no suspicion we didn't try our best."

Japan's No. 3 Nakamura, ranked 71 in the world, still has an outside chance of making the Olympic squad, which will be selected via the world rankings published on June 9.

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily June 3, 2008)

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