The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has been slapped with a £820,000 fine by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) after banning Russian and Belarusian players from grass court tournaments in 2022.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, multiple sports placed restrictions on athletes from the two nations competing, although players were still permitted to participate in ATP and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) events.
However, the LTA and All England Lawn Tennis Club decided to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing at Wimbledon and other grass-court events, meaning that the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Aryna Sabalenka and Andrey Rublev could not play at SW19.
Back in July, the LTA and AELTC were fined £620,000 by the WTA for excluding Russian and Belarusian female players from grass tournaments, including Nottingham and Birmingham.
Now, the LTA have again been hit with a heftier fine of £820,000 after banning Russian and Belarusian male players from the five ATP tournaments at £164,018 each, which includes the Surbiton, Nottingham and Ilkley Challenger events as well as Queen’s and Eastbourne.
“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,” BBC Sport quotes an LTA statement as reading.
“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.”
No ranking points were awarded at Wimbledon following the LTA and AELTC’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes, and the ATP have reportedly threatened the LTA with possible membership cancellation if their stance remains the same in 2023.