Former grand slam champion Ilie Nastase has suspension trimmed but fine increased for Fed Cup behaviour

Ilie Nastase has had his ban for his conduct during Romania's Fed Cup tie against Great Britain marginally reduced on appeal but his fine doubled.

The two-time former grand slam champion, who was captaining the Romania side for the World Group II play-off in Constanta last April, was sanctioned for a number of offences by the International Tennis Federation.

Ilie Nastase

Those included making a racially insensitive remark about Serena Williams' then-unborn baby, inappropriate behaviour towards GB captain Anne Keothavong and verbally abusing Keothavong, Johanna Konta and match officials.

Nastase was found in breach of Fed Cup regulations on four charges in July after an initial hearing and his appeal was heard by an independent tribunal in December.

The 71-year-old was initially banned from attending any ITF events, including Fed Cup and Davis Cup, until the end of 2018 and from holding any official positions until the end of 2020. The end dates of his punishments have been changed to April 23, 2018 and April 23, 2020 on appeal. But Nastase's fine has been increased from $10,000 (€8,100) to $20,000 (€16,200).

Nastase was no stranger to controversy during a colourful playing career and his appointment as Romania captain in October 2016 raised eyebrows.

His first offence occurred at an official dinner two days before the start of the tie when he asked Keothavong for her hotel room number, a comment he repeated a day later at a press conference, when he also put his arm around the GB captain, who was pregnant at the time.

During the press conference he was overheard saying of Williams' baby in Romanian, "Let's see what colour it has. Chocolate with milk?". After being informed he was being investigated by the ITF over his conduct, Nastase confronted Press Association reporter Eleanor Crooks and repeatedly called her stupid in a tirade in the press room.

Nastase's most serious offence occurred on the court during the second rubber of the tie, when he swore repeatedly at umpire Jaume Campistol and referee Andreas Egli before calling Keothavong and Konta "f***ing bitches".

Nastase was ordered to leave the premises and, as he was escorted away by security, confronted and verbally abused Crooks, who was among a number of media representatives filming the incident.

Nastase, the first ever official world number one in 1973, later argued the ban he had served up until the appeal was long enough while the ITF wanted the sanctions to be increased.

Nastase cited previous cases in claiming his punishment was unduly harsh, but the tribunal disagreed, saying in the judgment: "As the ITF sets out, there does not appear to be any previous case in which a Fed Cup captain who was a famous and decorated player has used racially insensitive language about a current famous and decorated player, sexually harassed an opposing team captain twice, called a journalist stupid and ugly, used threatening and/or insulting and/or abusive language of the nature previously described towards a journalist, two match officials and an opposing team captain and player; and all in the space of three highly-publicised days.

"The appellant did not have to take on the role of Fed Cup captain, but he did; and in doing so he accepted to conduct himself according to a certain set of standards and to lead by example, which regrettably, he failed to do. He must therefore receive an appropriate and proportionate sanction despite his long and illustrious career."

The ban does not cover either WTA or ATP Tour events or the four grand slams. The French Open banned Nastase from attending the tournament last summer while Wimbledon did not extend its usual invite for him to sit in the Royal Box.

A Lawn Tennis Association spokesman said: "The LTA and the GB Fed Cup team today welcomes the independent tribunal verdict in relation to the appeal by Ilie Nastase against the ITF internal adjudication panel from last year. Fair play and treating people equally must always be paramount in upholding the integrity of sport."

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