An ITF Appeal Panel appointed under Article b)1 of the 2016 Code of Conduct for Officials (the "2016 Code") has partially upheld the appeal of Denis Pitner against a decision of the ITF Disciplinary Panel dated 19 April. As a consequence, the decision of the Disciplinary Panel has been modified, and Mr Pitner is suspended for six years.
On 19 April, Mr Pitner, an official from Croatia, was suspended from officiating for ten years by an ITF Disciplinary Panel for the commission of three breaches of the 2015 Code and two breaches of the 2016 Code, including: a failure to notify the USTA of the suspension of his White Badge certification; misrepresenting his status as a White Badge official to the Qatar Tennis Federation; misrepresenting his status as a White Badge official to the Lawn Tennis Association; receiving payment for officiating at the rate applicable for a White Badge official while his White Badge was suspended; and failing to report the above violations to the Joint [Officiating] Certification Programme.
On 2 May 2016, Mr Pitner appealed that decision, submitting that he was given assurances by the ITF and the Croatian Tennis Federation that he remained eligible to act as a Line Judge at the 2015 US Open; he was not under any obligation to disclose the suspension of his White Badge to the USTA; he had a genuinely-held belief that, despite the suspension of his White Badge, he still held the status of a White Badge official, albeit one with reduced entitlement and so did not misrepresent himself to the Qatar Event or to the LTA; while suspended, he only sought officiating roles that required him to hold qualification as a National official, and so the manner in which he represented his status was irrelevant; as a result of his belief that he was still a White Badge official, he was unaware that he had committed any violation(s) of the 2015 or 2016 Code, and so believed that he had nothing to report to the Joint Certification Programme.
At an appeal hearing on 20 May 2016, the Appeal Panel received evidence from Mr Pitner. The Appeal Panel delivered its decision on 10 June 2016, which is available below. The Appeal Panel affirmed the decision of the Disciplinary Panel that Mr Pitner had: misrepresented his status as a White Badge official to the Qatar Tennis Federation and the Lawn Tennis Association; received payment at the rate applicable for a White Badge official while his White Badge was suspended.
However, the Appeal Panel determined that Mr Pitner did not breach the 2015 Code by failing to notify the USTA of the suspension of his White Badge certification; or by failing to report to the Joint Certification Programme of the above violations. The Appeal Panel determined that the suspension should begin on completion of Mr Pitner’s existing suspension, ie on 1 August 2016, and so ending on 31 July 2022.