Tennis: Spanish federation chief to step down amid finances probe

Reuters , Thursday 2 Jul 2015

RFET (Royal Spanish Tennis Federation) President Jose Luis Escanuela (Photo: Reuters)

Spanish tennis federation (RFET) president Jose Luis Escanuela opted to stand down on Thursday, one day after he was suspended for failing to cooperate in a government probe into the organisation's finances.

The decision, announced in a statement published in the Marca sports daily, comes after Spain's disciplinary committee for sports (TAD) suspended Escanuela indefinitely over what the government sports council (CSD) called "a complete lack of collaboration" on requests for information.

The CSD has also clashed with Escanuela, who took over in 2010, over the appointment last year of Gala Leon as Spain's first female Davis Cup captain, a decision which alienated top players such as Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer.

Nadal, Ferrer and 42 other high-profile figures in Spanish tennis this week issued a statement that hit out at general poor organisation along with a lack of transparency at the RFET.

It emphasised the "chaotic" and "belligerent" way the federation was run by Escanuela and asked that the "necessary authorities" take swift action.

Leon, who had a career-high ranking of 27 as a player, was a surprise choice to replace Carlos Moya, who stood down after the five-times Davis Cup winners were relegated from the World Group following defeat against Brazil in a playoff.

It is unclear whether any of Spain's top-ranked players will commit to playing in this month's Group I second-round tie away to Russia.

Escanuela said Leon would still be in charge for the July 17-19 match in Vladivostok despite his decision to quit.

"I will formalise this decision (to stand down) and it will become effective on July 19, as soon as the tie against Russia, led by Gala Leon, is over," Escanuela wrote in his statement.

The CSD says it is attempting to track down what happened to at least 700,000 euros ($774,690) the federation paid out in transactions linked to the Spanish Tennis Foundation and the Spanish Tennis Observatory.

The Foundation was set up by the RFET to help promote tennis in Spain, while the Observatory is a joint project with a university in Seville to study the sport.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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