Suspended umpire gets 10-year ban

LONDON • A prominent tennis umpire exposed by The Guardian in February as having worked at last year's US Open while serving an undisclosed one-year suspension has been banned for 10 years.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) insisted that, while it erred by failing to release the original information to the media, it did inform the relevant governing bodies, marking Denis Pitner's card as "Do Not Credential".

However, the admission only further embarrasses the United States Tennis Association, which did not act on the directive - and a senior figure in the Association of Tennis Professionals was adamant that he and his colleagues had "no knowledge whatsoever" of Pitner's ban until it emerged in the media.

On Tuesday it announced the Croatian official could not work again until April 19, 2026.

Minor officials have been banned in the past but he is the first umpire at a higher level to be sanctioned. He officiated at Flushing Meadows in September and the Qatar Open in January, just before the Australian Open, which was blighted by renewed speculation regarding old match-fixing claims.

It was this controversy that led The Guardian to discover Pitner's first ban. It has also emerged he did not declare his ban when applying to the Lawn Tennis Association to officiate at this year's Wimbledon.

Tuesday's announcement comes the day after world No. 1 Novak Djokovic rejected claims by Andy Murray that the sport was not totally "clean". The world No. 2 urged the authorities to crack down harder on cheating. Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker, said Murray was "totally out of order" for raising these suspicions without proof.

The ITF found Pitner guilty of "failure to notify the United States Tennis Association of the suspension of his white badge certification; and misrepresentation to the Qatar Tennis Federation that he held a current white badge certification in his application to officiate at the 2016 Qatar Open".

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2016, with the headline 'Suspended umpire gets 10-year ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe