At the Delray Beach Open starting on Thursday, Sam Querrey will step on a tennis court for a competitive match for the first time since the French Open in late September.
But it wasn’t that the American World No. 53 didn’t sign up for any tournaments in between. He had travelled with his wife and then eight-month-old son to the St Petersburg Open in Russia in October. But when all three of them tested positive for COVID-19, instead of entering the mandatory 14-day period of self-isolation, the Querreys snuck out of their hotel, boarded a private jet, and allegedly left the country.
The ATP has since then been investigating the case. And the governing body finally came to a conclusion on December 30.
“The investigation reviewed the full circumstances surrounding the incident and concluded Mr. Querrey’s conduct to be contrary to the integrity of the game under the Player Major Offense provision in the ATP Code of Conduct. As a result, the ATP has issued a fine of $20,000,” read an ATP statement.
“Taking into consideration Mr. Querrey’s many years of otherwise good standing with the ATP and other mitigating factors, the fine is suspended and will be lifted subject to Mr. Querrey committing no further breaches of health and safety protocols related to COVID-19 within a probationary six-month period.”
In other words, if Querrey doesn’t break any quarantine rules for the next six months, the 33-year-old, who has won over $12 million in prize money, will not have to pay the fine.
The manner, however, in which the former Wimbledon semi-finalist fled from Russia itself had been alarming.
According to a statement released by the organising committee, a doctor and paediatrician had attempted to meet the Querreys twice after they tested positive for the virus. But the health officials were denied entry by the player on the first occasion (Querrey “justifying his refusal by the fact that his child was sleeping”) on October 12, and there was simply no answer at the door despite both parties agreeing to meet the following day.
It later emerged that the Querreys had already left the country before the second visit.
“Instead of acting in accordance with the ATP rules and the tournament sanitary protocol, at 5:45 AM on October 13, Sam Querrey along with his family left the hotel without informing the reception – as was filmed by the hotel security cameras,” read the statement by Formula TX, the company that had organised the ATP event.
“As Querrey told the ATP representative, he flew out of Russia on a private jet. The ATP representative passed on this information to the tournament management after the doctors made a repeat abortive attempt to examine the family.”
He hadn’t surfaced – for any tournament or otherwise – ever since. Until November 4, when American screenwriter and director Douglas Ellin uploaded a video on his Instagram account. Querrey was seen playing Pickleball on a tennis court in Santa Monica, California.
In October, the ATP issued a statement, without naming the player, claiming that the body was “taking this matter extremely seriously and an investigation is underway.” The Guardian also reported that Querrey could face a fine of up to $100,000 along with a three-year suspension for the breach of health and safety protocols, deemed as a ‘serious offence.’”
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