Andy Murray accuses the LTA over contracting Covid-19

Andy Murray has accused the LTA of failing to protect its players from Covid-19 and, as a result of him contracting the virus last month, of costing him the chance to compete at the Australian Open.
Andy Murray has hit out at the LTA which runs tennis in Britain.Andy Murray has hit out at the LTA which runs tennis in Britain.
Andy Murray has hit out at the LTA which runs tennis in Britain.

While missing the first grand slam of the year is frustrating, what matters most to Murray is that he brought the virus home from the LTA’s National Training Centre (NTC) in Roehampton, south west London, and passed it on to his immediate family. His wife and children all tested positive after Murray developed symptoms while another family member became seriously ill.

And Murray, who tested positive on January 11, knows that he could only have got the bug at the NTC.

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“I couldn’t pick it up anywhere else because I hadn’t left my house or the NTC for ten weeks, and then obviously there were some positive cases there,” he said. “I certainly couldn’t have picked it up from my family because they were all negative [before].”

While he acknowledges that the Covid protocols are strictly adhered to now – just as they were in April during the first national lockdown – he says that standards at the NTC had slipped over Christmas and New Year.

“After Christmas, you obviously have an indoor venue where they are using all six courts, there were tons of people in the gym and it was just totally different,” he said. “Now it's kind of back to what it was in April but the reality is that it happened too late because there were quite a number of cases between Christmas and New Year when the players are going off to Australia.”

Murray is not the only critic of the LTA and there have been reports from various sources of packed dining areas, no masks being worn and a lack of social distancing. Dan Evans trained at the NTC until he left for Australia by which time a number of players, coaches and staff had caught the virus.

“I was pretty nervous the last few days because obviously we knew the virus was there,” Evans said. “I think as with anything, people relax a bit. I think the Christmas period and the New Year period maybe [it] slackened a little bit.

“If I was being a bit harsh, without being rude to some players in there, there were probably people in there who weren’t preparing for tournaments and they were using the centre just to practice, to get out. But they were allowed to.”

So as the rest of the tennis community prepares for the start of the Australian Open tomorrow, Murray is in Italy getting ready to play in a Challenger event.

In an official statement, the LTA said that they had “consistently applied the stringent and appropriate restrictions” but that they could not police every area of the NTC; it was up to the players to be “responsible for their own behaviour”. That cuts little ice with Murray.

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“I know that none of my team have had the virus,” he said. “I was the only one to pick it up and none of my family had it before, so I brought it to them. The only two places I went to were the National Tennis Centre and my house, so I know where I got it from. I am very comfortable with how I conducted myself.”

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