The proposed suspension of Ivan Lendl by the Association of Tennis Professionals has drawn strong reaction from World Championship Tennis officials, who contend Lendl is being treated unjustly.
The ATP on Thursday charged Lendl with "conduct detrimental to the sport" when he withdrew from the World Team Cup in Duesseldorf, West Germany, next week to play in a WCT championship. He faces an indefinite suspension and a fine of $10,000, although the ATP has not said when they would take effect.
Rod Humphreys, chief operating officer of the WCT, said yesterday that Lendl's original commitment lies with the WCT event.
"When players sign up for individual tournaments, the agreement is that if they qualify, they must play in the championships," he said. "In the past, we've had the embarrassment of tournaments where players did not show up when they had qualified. If they play for us, they have to play the championships."
If players fail to appear in the WCT championships, Humphreys said, they automatically lose bonus money. In Lendl's case, that totals more than $200,000.
"If Lendl can be suspended because of keeping a (WCT) commitment, what about the other 11 players who agreed to play in our tournament and who went to the World Team Cup instead?" he asked.
Humphreys said Lendl had signed an agreement with the WCT last August, which in effect, is a commitment to play WCT championship events, and that the ATP had been notified of the agreement.
Lendl had committed to the World Team Cup in November.
Ron Bookman, a spokesman for the ATP, said, "A lot of players felt they had been misled on that point (championship commitment), and had put the WCT on notice that they would play certain tournaments, but didn't feel bound by any add-on clauses."
Lendl, who is playing in a tournament in Madrid, said yesterday through a spokesman that he would not challenge the suspension.
"The reason for my decision to withdraw from World Team Cup, which I entered in good faith to play for my country (Czechoslovakia), is due to strong requests made by WCT in the last two weeks," he said.