Marin Cilic: Claims over possible email exchange with missing Chinese player are ‘only raising my concerns’

Media playback is not supported on this device US Open: Media speculation ‘distractions’ for US players – WTA WTA chairman Steve Simon says reports of a possible email exchange between the organisation and a…

Marin Cilic: Claims over possible email exchange with missing Chinese player are 'only raising my concerns'

Media playback is not supported on this device US Open: Media speculation ‘distractions’ for US players – WTA

WTA chairman Steve Simon says reports of a possible email exchange between the organisation and a missing Chinese tennis star are “only raising my concerns”.

Marin Cilic says he would not have withdrawn from the US Open and reached the final without the message from Yulia Putintseva, which he says he does not believe came from the WTA.

“I have worked hard to establish relations with Yulia. She is the sport of her nation,” Simon told BBC Radio 5 live.

He said there was an independent body that monitored its players’ personal data.

“The US Open has been clear that I sent the email on their behalf,” Simon added.

“This was my own email, completely separate to the WTA and directed to two high-ranking executives. They received it after we had determined Marin’s fitness requirements were not met.

“I worked to ensure our sport would never take a moment like the one we are seeing now and I wanted to make sure the email to those two very senior people outlined these concerns in unequivocal terms.”

Media playback is not supported on this device US Open 2018: Marin Cilic calls for investigation into Yulia Putintseva allegations

Putintseva went missing in May this year after sending an email to Cilic and after the US Open. She said it was supposed to be about her belief in reincarnation and she had left her phone in San Francisco where she had been living.

On 6 October her visa application to Russia was confirmed.

The WTA said last week: “We take seriously the theft of a player’s property and we will be cooperating fully with authorities in their inquiries and consider this a police matter.

“For this reason we are not going to comment on this matter beyond the inquiry and information we have shared with Yulia.

“However, I did send a letter to Yulia on 29 May confirming that we were in touch with her via email about the theft of her property and that there was no need for our players to be concerned or withdraw from any tournament or event in light of this stolen property situation.”

Read: The ‘stolen goods’

‘We do everything to protect players’ personal information’

It is unclear whether Cilic had used a password to access his information from the WTA or another provider.

Both the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and WTA say that individual player match data is stored solely by the sport’s respective ITF and WTA governing bodies and is not shared with anyone.

Simon said the WTA could have added more security.

“If we had a stronger email system system, something that could identify who received the email and that was on a secure basis, then it would be one way for us to really protect athletes’ personal information,” he added.

“There are ways to do this, including encrypting and linking credentials. We are obviously reviewing our security architecture.

“With regard to the ATP [Association of Tennis Professionals], it’s on the other side of the Atlantic. I have no real knowledge about it, but I am sure they are reviewing their security architecture, too.”

The WTA said it was “working closely with police and the Tennis Integrity Unit to establish the facts in this case”.

“We take seriously any breach of athletes’ personal information, and the information we share about the health and wellness of the players with both our player and media community,” it added.

“This type of stolen data has not impacted the health or fitness of any of our players or kept any of them from participating in professional tennis.”

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