Tennis: Radioactive court row

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The Independent Online
RUSSIA MAY file an official complaint against a Swedish company that supplied radioactive sand for a court being laid for this weekend's Davis Cup quarter-final against Slovakia in Moscow.

Last week Russian custom officials barred entry to 45 tonnes of sand shipped from Sweden to be used for a clay court at Moscow's Olympic Sports Complex, saying it had high levels of radioactivity. "It was seven times higher than any allowed limits," the Russian team captain, Shamil Tarpishchev, said.

"If we played on such a surface, it not only would ruin our chances, it could have seriously damaged the health of our players." Russia may now complain officially to the International Tennis Federation, the game's ruling body.

The hosts were forced to lay a clay court for the World Group tie against Slovakia, costing the cash-strapped Russian Tennis Federation thousands of dollars. The players, though, came to the federation's rescue with their own cash. According to a federation source, former world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov paid $5,000 (pounds 3,200) out of his own pocket while the rest of the team chipped in $1,000 each.

"We lost a lot of money last year ]during Russia's financial crisis]," said RTF president Yaroslav Kalagursky. "Honestly speaking, our financial situation is still a very bleak one."