- 05 Jan 2021
One of the most intriguing stories on the tennis tour last October was the flight of Sam Querrey, along with his wife and son, from Russia – despite having just tested positive for Covid-19. The American had been set to play the St Petersburg tournament, and his departure meant he had removed himself from mandatory quarantine and left the country without permissione. The act was considered a “serious breach of protocol” by the ATP, and potentially punishable by a $100,000 fine and a lengthy suspension. Ten weeks later, the ATP closed its investigation, imposing a $20,000 suspended fine on Querrey, on condition that he commit “no further violations of health and safety protocols related to Covid-19 during a six-month trial period”. Following this verdict, the American player gave his version of events in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
“People will be able to judge me on the facts”
Contrary to what has been reported previously, Sam Querrey claims now that he was prepared to accept a quarantine in the hotel where he was in St Petersburg – but it was made clear to him that he and his family could not stay in quarantine in that hotel.
“Around 8pm I received a call from one of the ATP supervisors. You are no longer welcome at the hotel. Two doctors will come to your room, one for you and your wife and a paediatrician for your baby. And they will determine whether you are symptomatic or not, and if you are symptomatic, all three of you will go to the hospital for at least two weeks.”
Uncomfortable with this turn of events, the American wanted to know more, including which hospital they would be transferred to if they were symptomatic and whether he would be able to stay with his family. But he didn’t get an answer.
“No one could say, ‘Oh, you’ll definitely stay together’ or anything like that,” he explained.
Heading to London
While the doctors were supposed to attend the Querreys’ room on Sunday evening at 10pm, he asked the ATP to postpone until the next morning at 10am. The request was granted. During this time, Querrey decided to charter a private jet and leave for London.
“We left the hotel early in the morning to avoid being seen, and went straight to the private jet terminal in St Petersburg and flew to London. This flight cost me a lot of money, about $40,000, and I also paid for a fortnight for an Airbnb in London.”
Querrey also explained that he had to respect health and safety protocols in order not to contaminate anyone during their journey between Russia and England.
“My wife and I wore medical masks, we wore N-95s, we never took the mask off to take a sip of water or to eat. We landed, went straight to an Airbnb I rented and quarantined ourselves for a fortnight. I had to do what I thought was right. I wasn’t willing to let our family go to hospital for at least two weeks.”