Alexander Zverev has been cleared by the men’s tennis tour of domestic abuse allegations, after a 15-month independent investigation found “insufficient evidence to substantiate” claims made by his ex-girlfriend.
The ATP will take no disciplinary action against former world No 2 Zverev as a decision was finally reached more than two years since Olga Sharypova first made claims of domestic violence and emotional abuse.
The investigation related mainly to claims made by former junior player Sharypova in 2020 that Zverev abused her physically and emotionally at the 2019 ATP Masters 1000 event in Shanghai. Zverev, 25, has always denied the allegations.
The investigation, carried out by The Lake Forest Group (LFG), conducted extensive interviews with Sharypova, Zverev and 24 other individuals, including tennis players and other parties involved with the ATP Tour.
Investigators were granted voluntary access to both Zverev and Sharypova’s messages, photographs and phone records from the time. But they blamed “a lack of reliable evidence and eyewitness reports” as well as “conflicting statements by Sharypova, Zverev and other interviewees” for their inability to substantiate the allegations or determine that violations of the ATP’s conduct rules were made by Zverev.
The ATP concluded on Tuesday not to take disciplinary action against Zverev, but in a statement said this “may be reevaluated should new evidence come to light”.
Zverev has never faced a suspension or disciplinary proceedings regarding the allegations, and had the claims hanging over his head when he won Olympic gold for Germany at the Tokyo Games in August 2021. That was the same month Sharypova added further claims of physical abuse, which she said drove her to numerous suicide attempts in a second interview published in Slate magazine.
The ATP faced criticism at the time for not acting quickly enough on the allegations, including from former world No 1 Andy Murray who said they needed to be “more proactive” in addressing the situation as players were being asked to weigh in.
Zverev welcomed the outcome, saying: “From the beginning, I have maintained my innocence and denied the baseless allegations made against me. I welcomed and fully cooperated with the ATP’s investigation and am grateful for the organization’s time and attention in this matter.
“This decision marks a third, neutral, third-party arbiter who has reviewed all relevant information and made a clear and informed decision on this matter in my favor. In addition to the ATP’s independent investigation, I have also initiated court proceedings in Germany and Russia, both of which I have won.
“I am grateful that this is finally resolved and my priority now is recovering from injury and concentrating on what I love most in this world – tennis.
“I want to thank my friends, family and fans for their ongoing support. We followed the long and difficult process and justice has prevailed.”
In October 2021, when the ATP finally commissioned the independent investigation as well as an Independent Safeguarding Report, Zverev welcomed the news as an opportunity to “clear his name”.
ATP CEO Massimo Calvelli confirmed on Tuesday that a head of safeguarding has now been appointed to oversee implementation of the report’s recommendations and he admitted they need to be “more responsive on safeguarding matters” going forwards.
“The seriousness and complexity of these allegations required an extremely thorough investigative process and considerable resources,” Massimo Calvelli, ATP CEO, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“It also required us to turn to specialist investigators, which was new ground for ATP. We ultimately believe the exhaustive process was necessary to reach an informed judgement. It has also shown the need for us to be more responsive on safeguarding matters. It is the reason we’ve taken steps in that direction, with a lot of important work still ahead.”