Ilie Nastase thumbed his nose at the International Tennis Federation on Sunday by strolling through the front door of the Tennis Club IDU. It was another indication that, in Romania, he can get away with anything he likes.
Nastase had theoretically been banned from the venue after his disgraceful performance on Saturday, when he verbally abused everyone from the British team to the match officials and even visiting journalists.
But no-one is likely to stop this grandee of Romanian sport from going where he pleases. He was surrounded by a knot of TV cameras and security guards as he walked up the main corridor of the venue and into the VIP Lounge, where he was reported to be eating with friends.
“If someone’s accreditation is taken away from them you’d think that would be it,” said the British captain Anne Keothavong, in a weary tone. “There’s no point having a rule book if you don’t stick to the rules. We haven’t crossed paths and as far as I’m concerned yesterday was the end of it.”
Keothavong also confirmed that bunches of flowers had been sent to the British women. When told that they had been sent by Nastase, her face froze into a grimace. “Nice,” she replied. “Unfortunately I can’t take them on the plane home with me.”
��. Like that's going to make everything alright. I know exactly where i'd plant those flowers. https://t.co/t53CI6vrV9— judy murray (@JudyMurray) 23 April 2017
The ITF, whose job it should have been to keep Nastase off the site, seemed typically bemused by the situation. But once the great agent provocateur had made his presence felt, he slipped out a back door and left the Romanian players to celebrate their victory.
One thing the ITF did do on Sunday was hand Nastase a provisional ban, meaning that “he may not participate in the Fed Cup in any capacity with immediate effect”. Not that this is likely to affect his life in the short term, because Romania will not play their next tie until February.
Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing into what to do with Nastase in the longer term. A significant ban would seem to be the minimum he can expect after his outrageous conduct here. And it is hard to see why much deliberation is required. As the American TV presenter and former player Mary Carillo put it on Saturday, “What’s to investigate? Get him out.”
Another former player with a busy broadcasting schedule, Pam Shriver, added to the rapsheet against Nastase yesterday when she spoke to the BBC’s Sportsweek programme. “He certainly should be banned,” Shriver said. “It’s unacceptable behaviour, it’s insulting to so many people, minorities, women, almost humanity. It shows no respect.
“I recall that when I was 16, whenever I saw Ilie Nastase he would ask me the same question, which was ‘Are you still a virgin?’ And remember, I’m a teenager, and I’m playing the tour, and it was a shocking thing – I never had anybody ask me that before.
“Okay, he was a known jokester, and he did it in a joking way. But when I got older, perhaps 20, and he asked me for about the 30th time, I said, 'would you please stop asking me that?'
“This man has not been respectful of women for a long, long time. I don’t think he’ll recover now. I think he is done as a coach, certainly in any formal setting.
“Everybody has a couple of different sides to their personality and certainly not all of Ilie Nastase is evil and mean and sexist. But unfortunately he does not have a filter and there is a side that is, so he can't coach women players any more."