Estonian tennis body bans funding for athletes playing alongside Russians

Kaja Kanepi (left) with Angelina Gabueva on courrt in Strasbourg.
Kaja Kanepi (left) with Angelina Gabueva on courrt in Strasbourg. Source: Christoph de Barry / C’est qui Maurice /Twitter

The Estonian Tennis Association (Eesti Tennise Liit) has adopted new restrictions which will bar funding support to players, coaches and others who play alongside or have any other cooperation with sports personnel from the Russian Federation.

The restrictions came into effect Thursday, and apply to athletes participating in international league series.

The move likely follows Kaia Kanepi's recent doubles pairing up with a player from the Russian Federation, and the restriction also applies to cooperation with sportspeople from Belarus.

Allar Hint, head of the national tennis association, said: "The events of the past few months have proved that we cannot leave vague our positions regarding competing with athletes from Russia and Belarus and regarding any contact with these countries in the sports arena."

"We need clarity and concreteness, which we hope today's decision will give to our athletes. The decision will allow athletes to focus on sports in the future, not to wrestle with difficult decisions, as clear instructions for acting in situations were not given," Hint went on.

"We hope that the example of the Estonian tennis association will now be followed by other tennis federations around the world," he added.

From Thursday, June 15, 2023, the Estonian tennis association will stop supporting:

  • Any Estonian athlete who plays in the same team as a citizen of Russia or Belarus.
  • Any athlete who is trained by a coach who is a citizen of Russia or Belarus.
  • Any coach who trains an athlete who is a citizen of Russia or Belarus.
  • Any athlete, coach or judge who participates in tennis matches held in Russia or Belarus.
  • Any other individuals involved in the organization of sports, who are connected with Russian or Belarusian athletes or competitions taking place in Russia or Belarus.

The restriction on payment of support includes all financial support to athletes, coaches and referees, as well as scholarships, the reimbursement of travel expenses, daily out-of-pocket expenses etc., and is valid for 12 months from the event which triggered the ban.

In addition, those violating this restriction, be they players, coaches, officials, organizers or others involved in a sporting event, will be hit with a 12-month ban on participation in competitions supported by the Estonian Tennis Association.

The tennis association would also return any funds it had obtained from another organization, for instance the Estonian Olympic Committee (EOK), in respect of the sanctioned individual.

Controversy reigned when Kaia Kanepi, at the time Estonia's highest-ranked player by the WTA, was paired up in the women's doubles with Angelina Gabueva, a Russian player competing under a neutral flag. This took place at a tournament in Strasbourg, ahead of the French Open (pictured).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Anders Nõmm

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