The life of Enrique López Pérez (Madrid, 1991) changed completely on December 19, 2019. After finishing one more year among the 200 best in the world, an email from the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) threw all their plans overboard. The letter alluded to obscure but widely recognized terms on the circuit such as ‘match fixing’, ‘illegal gambling’ or ‘corruption’. Terms that placed the player on a provisional suspension after raising suspicions in some tournaments. You only suspect, not a single test. Eight months later, and after a trial in Spain where he was found not guilty, Enrique is still waiting for a response from the ATP that will allow him to leave this nightmare behind.
And what has happened during all these months? In sports, nothing. The player has been banned from attending and competing in any tennis tournament. Legally, the case fell into the hands of the Spanish Justice and the result was immediate: innocent. The lack of evidence demanded to stop the investigation, so the Spanish soon sent a request to the anti-corruption hearing to demand a return to normalcy, since nothing made him guilty. Richard McLaren, the officer in charge of the process, denied that request last week, which led the TIU to make these events public for the first time.
The facts point to a professional declared innocent whom they are trying to keep suspended, somewhat illegitimate and for which the player and his lawyer will denounce the TIU in the CAS and in the Spanish courts. At this point and with the case already in the public window, Enrique has wanted to raise his voice for the first time and lean on Break point to clarify its role in such inconsistency.
“Regarding the communication from the Tennis Integrity Unit on July 24 on the opening of a disciplinary file and the maintenance of a temporary suspension as a tennis player, I must clarify:
That the facts of which the Tennis Integrity Unit accuses me have already been investigated by the Spanish justice, specifically by the Investigating Court Number 5 of Madrid in the file preliminary proceedings 80/2017, as well as by the Attorney General and the Guard Civil. That on June 22, 2020, the Judge, by indication of the Prosecutor’s Office, considered my case OVERRIDED, being since then completely innocent of the charges of match fixing. The Court has ruled that there is not even an opening for an oral trial against me. Considering itself above the Spanish courts, the Tennis Integrity Unit intends to re-judge the same facts evaluated in the Court of Spain and sanction me in a sports file using the same facts and evidence. This fact is nonsense, but above all it is a violation of my most basic fundamental rights and, therefore, it will be denounced before the Spanish courts and immediately appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ”.
Of course, the TIU’s methods are called into question by seeing the forms and timing of its operations. Being able to broaden the investigation and go deeper into the player’s private life, they decided not to, but they did maintain the suspension and opened a process outside the police where only they have power. Why have they not acted with all means to resolve the case as soon as possible? Why keep a professional who has already been found innocent by the justice system of your country punished? Eight months later, a single person is the one who continues to pay this toll, a ‘suspect’ on whom no single evidence to the contrary could be found.