Alexander Zverev won't be disciplined after ATP investigation into abuse allegations finds 'insufficient evidence'

The ATP announced on Tuesday that it had concluded its 15-month investigation into abuse claims against German tennis player Alexander Zverev. Due to "insufficient evidence," the ATP will not discipline Zverev at this time.

Following an exhaustive 15-month process, LFG submitted its full report to ATP. Based on a lack of reliable evidence and eyewitness reports, in addition to conflicting statements by Sharypova, Zverev and other interviewees, the investigation was unable to substantiate the allegations of abuse, or determine that violations of ATP's On-Site Offenses or Player Major Offenses rules took place.

As a result, no disciplinary action against Zverev will be taken by ATP. This determination may however be reevaluated should new evidence come to light, or should any legal proceedings reveal violations of ATP rules. Zverev has consistently denied all allegations and supported ATP's investigation.

In Nov. 2020, 27 months ago, Zverev's ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova accused him of physically and emotionally abusing her, specifically before the 2019 US Open and during the 2019 Laver Cup. She detailed her abuse in an extensive interview with Racquet Magazine's Ben Rothenberg, showing him screenshots of WhatApp messages between her and friends in which she sent descriptions and photos of Zverev's alleged abuse. The ATP eventually announced in Oct. 2021 that they had opened an investigation, 11 months after they'd first been made public.

"Insufficient evidence" is not a determination of guilt or innocence. It simply means the investigators, who are not active police officers and cannot force anyone to speak with them or turn over materials related to the case, did not find enough evidence to warrant further action at this time.

The ATP declined to release any of the completed report.

In a statement released after the ATP's announcement, Zverev, a former world No. 2, said "I am grateful that this is finally resolved and my priority now is recovering from injury and concentrating on what I love most in this world — tennis."

Where is the ATP's domestic violence policy?

Prior to the investigation into Zverev, the ATP had no domestic violence policy. When asked about it after the accusations surfaced in Nov. 2020, all an ATP spokesperson could do was refer to a broad, amorphous policy that requires players "to refrain from engaging in conduct contrary to the integrity of the game of tennis,” which could include criminal charges or behavior that directly damages the reputation of the sport.

And now, with the Zverev investigation completed to their own satisfaction, they still don't have a domestic violence policy. One might be coming, but the ATP was a little cagey about that in their official statement.

In October 2021, ATP commissioned an Independent Safeguarding Report, to ensure all adults and minors involved in men's professional tennis are safe and protected from abuse. A hiring process has recently been completed to appoint a dedicated head of Safeguarding, who will oversee implementation of the report's recommendations.

Hiring someone to oversee "Safeguarding" is a good first step. A good second step would be releasing the Safeguarding Report report so people can actually read the recommendations for themselves. Because without that transparency, there's no way to make sure the ATP is actually fixing its problems in this area, and no way to hold them accountable.

But since most organizations try to avoid accountability whenever possible, it's unlikely the ATP will release the report, especially since they're now hiring someone to head up "Safeguarding." Hopefully, this new person will be able to make changes and add policies to the rulebook as necessary. Because in the year 2023 (or 2022, or 2021, or 2020, or 2019, etc), there is simply no good reason to not have a domestic violence policy on the books.

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