The Lawn Tennis Association has been hit with a fine of £820,000 by the ATP for having banned Russian and Belarusian male players from its grass-court events.
In response, the LTA has issued a strongly-worded statement that accuses the ATP of having a “surprising lack of empathy” for the situation in Ukraine and showing “a clear lack of understanding of the unique circumstances” concerning the decisions it had to make.
“The ATP, in its finding, has shown no recognition of the exceptional circumstances created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or the international sporting community and UK Government’s response to that invasion.
“The ATP appear to regard this matter as a straightforward breach of their rules – with a surprising lack of empathy shown for the situation in Ukraine, and a clear lack of understanding of the unique circumstances the LTA faced.”
The statement continued by noting the “material impact” that the fines would now have on the LTA’s ability to host tournaments and develop the sport in the UK.
“The financial impact of both this fine and the WTA’s fine will have a material impact on the LTA’s ability to develop and host tennis in this country,” it read.
“For example, we had intended to host a number of ATP Challenger level events to give more opportunities to lower ranked players in the first quarter of 2023 and will now not be able to do this, particularly given the possibility of further fines.
“We will carefully consider our response and we await the outcome of our appeal against the WTA’s decision and sanction.”
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Michelle Donelan, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: “Despite widespread condemnation, the international tennis tours are determined to be outcasts in this, with investment in the growth of our domestic game hampered as a result.
“This is the wrong move by the ATP and WTA. I urge them to think carefully about the message this sends, and to reconsider.”
Wimbledon was stripped of its ranking points by both the ATP and the WTA over the summer.
The ATP will donate the fine to humanitarian relief in Ukraine.
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