Retired Ukraine tennis star Alexandr Dolgopolov blasted the ATP for failing to take a stand and ban Russian players from tournaments.
“I’ve told the ATP: tennis has a very cowardly attitude today,” the 33-year-old, who has returned home to defend his native city Kyiv from the Russian invasion, told French radio RTL.
“They (organisers) lack courage, above all they don’t want to assume the eventual consequences,” he continued.
“Frankly it’s not enough to say ‘We’re against the war’.”
While tennis’ governing bodies — ATP, ITF and WTA– have suspended the Russian and Belarusian tennis federations they haven’t banned Russian players on tour.
However, tennis stars from the two countries are playing as neutrals.
Daniil Medvedev, who is Russian, and Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka are the top seeds, in men’s and women’s draw respectively, at this week’s Miami Masters.
“I think the world of tennis make decisions which lack courage. Russia must be banned from everything that is organised by the free world,” added Dolgopolov, whose career ended in May 2021 after a recurring wrist injury.
“Because to say: ‘I am against war’, is insufficient. Their athletes must condemn their government, recognise that these are mass murders.
“If they take a neutral stance … it’s like they’re saying ‘Leave me, I live my life in my corner, I don’t want to be involved, I just want to play tennis’.
“This position is not tenable today, sorry. Every Russian person must pay the price for this aggression.”
Meanwhile Dolgopolov said he regretted not learning how to handle weapons earlier.
“I had tried shooting once in my life. Clearly it’s not my thing, but now I regret it,” he confessed.
“Now I know how to shoot. Of course I’m not a sniper, but I can shoot someone, for sure.”