The work that the ITIA does is not just about investigating and sanctioning players. A significant and often unseen part of our role is the education and prevention. When the ITIA Education team is not on the road at tournaments all around the world, they are online delivering group and one-on-one sessions to players, coaches and officials from all levels of the game.
ITIA educators recently spent some time in Nottingham, UK at the ITF World Tennis Tour event, an international tournament featuring players from all over the world:
The team arrive on site at 0830 and introduce themselves to the Tournament Director and other staff. Before every tournament, there is an officials’ briefing with all the line judges and chair umpires and the ITIA team present to them, reminding them of the rules around anti-corruption and anti-doping.
Officials at tennis tournaments are often volunteers and can therefore be subject to corrupt approaches, so it is important that they are aware of the risks. Officials are also one of the groups of people who interact most with players and so they also need to be aware of issues and questions that come to them throughout tournaments.
The tournament itself is organised by the UK’s national federation, the LTA and working with their Anti-Doping manager, the team also spent time with some young British players coming up through the ranks to introduce them to the worlds of anti-doping and anti-corruption. As soon as players come into a professional tournament, they can be subject to anti-doping testing. Being aware of what substances are on the prohibited list and the risks of getting caught out, as well as the mechanics of testing is important info for any player coming into the sport.
But the tournament also attracts players from all over the world and the team was able to talk about the Tennis Anti-Doping and Anti-Corruption Programmes with a range of players. From a young Polish player who is in her first season in the professional ranks, to a 22-year-old player from the US, travelling with his mother / manager / coach, or “Momager” as she put it.
Players are often asked what tennis means to them as part of the sessions and the answer is more or less always the same.
“It’s my life,” they say.
Considering the consequences of a ban because of breaking the rules, many of the players spoken to are clear what the worst aspect would be.
“Telling my family would be the worst. I cannot imagine having to tell my Granny that news,” said one.
With their bright blue ITIA branded coats, the team were a visible presence at the venue and the players, coaches and officials were happy to talk to them about the integrity of the sport. Already this year, the team has spoken to nearly 300 players, coaches and officials about Tennis You Can Trust. Next stops on the programme include Egypt and the French Open.
Published 14 April 2022 16:30