Ryan Harrison: ATP finds no evidence to support Donald Young's racism accusation
American Ryan Harrison will not face action over a claim he directed a "racial slur" at compatriot Donald Young during the New York Open.
The chair umpire intervened during the pair's first-round meeting on Monday after they argued at a change of ends.
After the match, Young, 28, tweeted: "I'm shocked and disappointed to hear you tell me how you really feel about me as a black tennis player."
The ATP said on Friday that it could find no evidence of any wrongdoing.
"The match footage did not pick up verbal exchanges between the players," said the ATP, which also reviewed interviews with match officials and other tournament staff.
Young was not available for comment on Tuesday and did not issue a statement. But Harrison said he hoped a recording of the incident could be found because, he said, it would vindicate him.
“There is zero chance I said anything like he is claiming,” Harrison said, “Please, if anyone has a video or a recording, please bring it forward.”
The ATP, the governing body of the men’s professional tennis tour, is conducting an investigation into the incident and according to two people familiar with it, no evidence had surfaced by Tuesday evening to support Young’s accusation. The ATP has spoken to both players, the chair umpire, ball kids assigned to the match and screened videotape of the incident.
Donald has accused Ryan Harrison of racial abuse
“The ATP takes any allegations of racial prejudice extremely seriously,” a statement issued by the organization said.
The incident stemmed from a contentious argument that occurred during a changeover in the first set of Monday’s match, which Harrison won, 6-3, 7-6 (4). It escalated to the point that the umpire had to come down from his chair to separate them.
About 30 minutes after the match, Harrison said, the ATP supervisor for the tournament, Tom Barnes, called him into his office and, with Young present, notified Harrison of Young’s charge.
“I was totally shocked,” Harrison said. “I begged him to find a tape of the broadcast. I said I would sign a document right there on the spot saying I would accept a three-month suspension, without appealing, if it’s true.”
The video recording of the match shows Harrison and Young arguing almost to the brink of fighting, but no clear audio recording of their conversation has emerged.
“The chair umpire witnessed and was a part of the entire exchange,” Harrison said in a statement released by the ATP on Tuesday afternoon. “The argument occurred directly in front of him.
Anyone who follows the sport of tennis knows that if anything of a racial nature occurred, the chair umpire would be required to give me an immediate code violation. The fact that no code violation occurred is further proof that no disparaging racial comments were made or said. Any audio of this exchange will confirm this and I encourage anyone with the available resources to find it.”
Harrison said that he and Young had engaged in “trash talk” about tennis only.
“I know for a fact that I didn’t say it,” he said. “This isn’t an incident that I have a cloudy or vague memory of. I remember it word for word. It’s why I was so adamant about a video or audio coming into play, because I knew I was 100 percent in the clear there.”
Harrison and Young have a long history of on-court acrimony, and the grudge appeared to escalate in Monday’s first-round match at the Veterans Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., the new home of the NY Open.
Harrison has a reputation as a hotheaded player and acknowledged that he has made many missteps on the court, but added that it was never anything like this.
“I am very passionate on the court I know there are times when I have been wrong,” he said. “But this is not one of those times. That is why I wanted them to listen to the audio, because I know there is nothing like that on there.”
Harrison was scheduled to play a doubles match on Tuesday with Steve Johnson. If they win, and Young and Matthew Ebden win their doubles match on Wednesday, Young and Harrison would find themselves facing one another on court again.
Harrison said he and Young walked past one another in the player hotel on Tuesday, but nothing was said.
In singles, their professional rivalry dates to 2010. They have played eight times with Harrison winning six, including the last four.
The New York Open is a new tour event. It was previously held at this time of year in Memphis, and that was the last time Harrison and Young had played before Monday.