British Tennis Is Fined $1M Over Ban of Russian Athletes
By Matt Hughes
Wimbledon’s row with the international tennis authorities over their ban on Russian players has escalated with the British game hit by an extraordinary series of fines totalling $1million.
Sportsmail has learned that the WTA has secretly fined the Lawn Tennis Association and the All England Club £620,000 and £207,000 respectively as a punishment for excluding Russian and Belarusian players from the warm-up tournaments in Eastbourne, Nottingham and Birmingham.
The All England Club, who run Wimbledon, and the LTA are set to appeal with the backing of the British Government, who reacted angrily when informed of the fines.
‘Since February the vast majority of the international sporting community have come together in solidarity to condemn Putin’s barbaric actions in Ukraine,’ Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries told Sportsmail.
‘Regrettably the international tennis federations appear determined to be outcasts in this. The LTA and Wimbledon should be praised for their move to make Russia an international sporting pariah, and doing what is right in the current circumstances.’
In another worrying development for British tennis there are also concerns about the appeal process. Sportsmail has learned that the WTA will only permit an appeal once the fine has been paid in full, leaving the British authorities no option but to shell out over £827,000 before they can mount their defence.
These concerns are compounded by the fact that the WTA board who will hear the appeal is chaired by WTA chief executive Steve Simon, who was responsible for issuing the original fine.
Wimbledon took a unilateral decision to ban the players following high-level talks with the Government who were concerned about handing a propaganda victory to Vladimir Putin’s regime.
It caused a major split in the tennis world with the ATP and WTA – the men’s and women’s tours – retaliating by removing ranking points from this year’s Championships.
The ban was also applied to this summer’s warm-up tournaments, with the WTA reacting by imposing a series of fines. The ATP are also expected to take disciplinary action, but that process has yet to begin.
The LTA have been given the biggest fine as they run the tournaments at Nottingham and Eastbourne, but the All England Club have also been impacted as, due to a historical quirk, they hold the licence for Birmingham.
British tennis chiefs are particularly aggrieved at being fined as the tournaments in Nottingham and Birmingham operate at a loss every year and are only staged to support the development of women’s tennis.
The LTA and the All England Club declined to comment.