ATP announces safeguarding review after domestic abuse allegations against Sascha Zverev

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The ATP has announced it will be conducting an independent review into its safeguarding policies, with a focus on abuse. The news comes after serious domestic violence allegations were made against two professional players, Alexander ‘Sascha’ Zverev and Nikoloz Basilashvili. Currently, the organisation for professional male players does not act until cases are resolved by local authorities.

The ATP will be commissioning an independent report as part of the review, and use this to alter its policy across multiple safeguarding issues, including domestic violence.

The governing body announced the news on Saturday (August 21) following past allegations made against two top 40 players, writing on their website: “The ATP has announced a comprehensive review of safeguarding policies, in line with a commitment to ensure all adults and minors involved in professional tennis are safe and protected from abuse. The review has been led by the commissioning of an independent report, currently being compiled by a team of expert consultants.

“To date, the ATP has typically deferred to legal authorities in cases of abuse before determining if further internal action is warranted under the ATP Code of Conduct. The report is expected to set out a number of recommendations to elevate safeguarding across the organisation and identify opportunities for more proactive involvement.

“Following its completion, ATP will evaluate its recommendations and possible next steps across a range of safeguarding matters, including those pertaining to domestic violence.”

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The ATP was criticised for failing to directly address allegations made against world No.3 Zverev last year, and continuing to promote him despite serious accusations of domestic violence from his ex-girlfriend, Olga ‘Olya’ Sharypova.

Last November, she detailed her allegations to the tennis magazine Racquet, claiming Zverev had been emotionally and physically abusive for the duration of their year-long relationship.

The recent Olympic gold-medallist allegedly hit Sharypova’s head into a wall, was ‘controlling and possessive’, took a pillow and sat on her face, took her passport to prevent her from leaving him, and punched her in the face during a series of assaults throughout their relationship.

The 24-year-old also said she attempted to take her life following an incident of domestic abuse in their Geneva hotel room during the 2019 Laver Cup, with a tournament official said to have persuaded Sharypova to let them in to help her.

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At the time, Zverev was part of Roger Federer’s TEAM8 management company and issued a statement denying the accusations, which now cannot be seen on his social media accounts, with his crisis PR specialist Bela Anda saying: “As you know, Alexander put out a statement on Instagram last week and he stands by this statement. Therein Alexander Zverev has commented on the accusations of Mrs. Sharypova, who he has known since childhood and had a relationship with, that ended a long time ago.”

As well as accusations against the top-three player, the ATP previously failed to address allegations against world No.40 Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Basilashvili was arrested on domestic violence charges, which he denies, against his ex-wife Neka Dorokashvili last May, with the case still ongoing.

Both players, neither of whom have been charged with any offences, have continuously been promoted by the ATP Tour across its social media platforms, and have been free to enter and play tournaments as normal.

However, if the ATP is to implement a new policy, it will be forced to address the serious allegations against two of their top stars, even without action from local law enforcement.

As the ATP’s policy review was announced, CEO Massimo Calvelli said: “Abuse has a profound and lasting impact on millions of victims each year. We believe everyone in tennis should feel protected, fairly represented, and supported in raising concerns.

“When abusive conduct or allegations are related to any member of the tennis family it can also impact the public’s trust in our sport. We recognise that we have a responsibility to be doing more.

“This represents new ground for us, and the seriousness and complexity of these issues will require us to proceed with care. We have to be sure that any policies are practical and enforceable across our sport, which operates in more than 30 different legal jurisdictions and where players compete as independent contractors.

“Collaboration with the WTA, ITF and the four Grand Slams will also be important in order to serve the wider tennis community.”

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