Monday, August 8, 2022

Wimbledon Russia ban could continue into 2023 as British tennis players eye legal action against the WTA

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Banning Russian and Belarusian players has already cost the biggest bodies in British tennis almost £1million, a fee that could rise next year if they are forced to uphold the suspension

The decision earlier this year by the All England Club (AELTC) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to ban players from Russia and Belarus over their respective countries’ roles in the invasion of Ukraine sparked outrage within the sport and beyond .

Wimbledon organizers could be left out in the cold for another year without ranking points and even be embroiled in a legal battle with the professional tours over their ban on Russian and Belarusian players, which is set to continue unless the British government responds to the war in Ukraine changes .

However, the AELTC insisted that government guidelines, which required sporting bodies to “ban individual athletes… …representing entities, cities or brands that effectively represent Russia or Belarus,” left them no choice but to players like Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka to remove the tie from the competition.

AELTC sources say the decision has been made “for 2022” and that no discussions have taken place about next year’s championships, however I believes senior officials currently believe the controversial ban is likely to remain in place unless there is a change in government-level policy.

That would draw the wrath of the two professional tours, who presented a united front in withdrawing ranking points from the tournament before the WTA, the LTA and the AELTC fined more than £800,000 for their respective roles in banning Russian and Belarusian player imposed from the grass season.

WTA rules state that each tournament “must be open to all categories of female tennis players without discrimination,” which the ban clearly violates.

I understands that the ATP is still considering its course of action, but the LTA expects the men’s tour to issue another fine for violating a similar rule that statistical tournaments “allow tennis player entries based on the ATP individual rankings and the ATP must accept double ranking”.

The British Tennis Association plans to appeal the decision, but at both the WTA and ATP the appeal would be heard by the board that issued the fine in the first place.

The LTA is understood to have sought legal advice on the matter and even explored the possibility of appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

However, sources with knowledge of how CAS works have suggested it I that even if the WTA were to agree to hear the case before referees in Switzerland, it is unlikely that much mileage would be covered unless errors were made in imposing the fine.

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