LTA hit with a $1 million fine for banning Russian and Belarusian players

Daniil Medvedev – PA

The Lawn Tennis Association has been fined $1 million by the men’s tour over its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this summer’s grass-court tournaments in England.

The latest fine comes after the women’s tour also imposed a $750,000 fine in July on the same grounds. In a statement, the LTA said they were weighing their options on a possible appeal, adding they were “deeply disappointed” by a sanction that will force them to curtail their professional tournament schedule next year.

The political stance taken by both the LTA and the All England Club this summer has left them as outliers within the wider tennis community.

Beyond these shores, the sport has continued to support players such as Russia’s Daniil Medvedev and Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka who continue to compete under a neutral banner.

Yet both the AELTC – which has seen Wimbledon stripped of ranking points as punishment – ​​and the LTA feel they have little choice, given the British government’s insistence that the Russian winners would give an unacceptable boost to the bloody regime by Vladimir Putin.

In a statement, the LTA said that “the ATP, in its conclusion, has shown no acknowledgment of the exceptional circumstances created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine [and] they seem to view this matter as a simple violation 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 has been faced with.

“The financial impact of this fine and that of the WTA will have a material impact on the LTA’s ability to develop and host tennis in this country. For example, we intended to host a series of ATP Challenger-level events to provide more opportunities for lower-level players in Q1 2023 and will now be unable to do so, particularly given the possibility of further sanctions.”

One of the key arguments made by the professional tours in imposing these sanctions against the LTA and AELTC is that the whole principle of their classification systems hinges on equality of opportunity.

Yet the LTA believes this argument is undermined by the upcoming event in Australia – the United Cup – which will bring together men and women in a new international team competition. Points for the ATP and WTA rankings will be available to participants, although Russia and Belarus have not been invited.

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