Tennis Umpire Suspended for Corruption Worked at U.S. Open


A breach in procedures allowed Denis Pitner, a Croatian tennis umpire suspended from officiating last August after a corruption inquiry, to continue working some tennis tournaments.

Leon Neal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Denis Pitner, a Croatian tennis umpire suspended from officiating last August after a corruption inquiry, worked as a linesman at the 2015 United States Open despite that suspension.

In a statement, the United States Tennis Association, which operates the Open, attributed the extraordinary situation to “a flaw in our process” and explained that Pitner had picked up his credential before the U.S.T.A. received notification of the suspension.

Pitner was suspended under the International Tennis Federation code of conduct after an investigation by the sport’s internal watchdog, the Tennis Integrity Unit.

The suspension was not revealed publicly until a Guardian newspaper investigation earlier this month. According to an I.T.F. statement, Pitner’s certification was suspended on Aug. 1, 2015, for 12 months for “sending information on the physical well-being of a player to a coach during a tournament and regularly logging on to a betting account from which bets were placed on tennis matches.”

“I think we’re learning a lot through this,” David Haggerty, president of the I.T.F., said in a telephone interview from London on Friday. “It sounds like he got his credential before anybody realized what had happened. An innocent mistake probably happens there, but I think what we want to do is make sure going forward that we are all communicating, and everybody is aware of what is going on. We did that this time, but maybe we need to highlight it even more just to make sure we do everything we can to make sure when there’s a suspension it is well noted.”

Pitner also worked at other events after his suspension, including the ATP event in Doha in January as a linesman. This occurred despite the ATP confirming that Pitner had been placed on a “no credentials” list.

“It appears that a breach in procedures has meant that Mr. Pitner did serve as a line judge at this year’s ATP event in Doha,” the ATP said in a statement. “The ATP is reviewing this issue with immediate effect to ensure that no further breaches take place at any future ATP events.”

Haggerty said the I.T.F. was reviewing Pitner’s one-year suspension in light of the fact that he had continued to work since the suspension was supposed to have been imposed.

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