Lawn Tennis Association fined for its ban on Russian and Belarusian players

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The Lawn Tennis Association has been fined one million US dollars (£820,000) by the ATP for its ban on Russian and Belarusian players.

It is also understood that the LTA has been threatened with expulsion from the Tour if it repeats the ban, imposed earlier this year due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russians and Belarusians were controversially prevented from competing at the LTA’s five ATP events; Queen’s Club, Eastbourne, Surbiton, Nottingham and Ilkley.

The All England Club also banned them from playing at Wimbledon, which was subsequently stripped of its ranking points by the ATP and the WTA.

Wimbledon 2021 – Day Eight – The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
Russian Daniil Medvedev could not play at Wimbledon (PA)

The LTA said it is considering its response to the latest sanction and accused the ATP of a “lack of empathy” over the situation in Ukraine.

A statement read: “The LTA is deeply disappointed with this outcome. 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 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.

“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.”

“Over the past year, the vast majority of the international sporting community have stood shoulder to shoulder in condemning Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and barbaric actions in Ukraine,” said Donelan.

“The UK has taken a world-leading role to build this international response. We are clear that sport cannot be used to legitimise this deadly invasion, and that athletes representing the Russian or Belarusian states should be banned from competing in other countries.

“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.

There were no Russian or Belarussian players allowed at any of the British grass-court tournaments
There were no Russian or Belarussian players allowed at any of the British grass-court tournaments (Tim Goode/PA)

However, the ATP doubled down on its position, insisting the decision was in the best interest of the sport.

The governing body said in a statement: “We stand by our original position on this matter, that unilateral decision-making by members of the ATP Tour threatens our ability to operate as a global sport.

“We believe that the measures taken protect the long-term future of our game and its commitment to merit-based participation, without discrimination, for individual athletes.

“We have no further comment.”

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