By Steve Keating
MIAMI (Reuters) – David Miley has confirmed that he will run for president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) but said on Thursday he was being handcuffed in his bid by a new code of ethics that prevents him from campaigning.
The 60-year-old former Irish national tennis champion is aiming to unseat American David Haggerty, who was elected to the top job in 2015 and is expected to seek a second four-year term.
Miley is a well-known and respected figure in tennis circles having spent 25 years working for the ITF, including as director of tennis development.
He maintains that his experience makes him uniquely qualified to seek the position of ITF president and tackle a number of issues, including a controversial revamp of the Davis Cup which continues to be hotly debated.
However, Miley claims new rules have put up roadblocks that keep him from sharing his platform and meeting with ITF members who will vote on a new president in September in Lisbon.
He has raised concerns about governance and integrity issues related to the ITF and particularly the recently released ITF Code of Conduct for the presidential election.
The code approved by the ITF board in October features several new measures affecting candidates, including limiting their ability to release campaign material and attend regional association meetings and to meet individual federation presidents.
Miley said he had planned to travel to the Tennis Europe annual general meeting in Malta from March 28-30 where the presidents of 50 nations will take part but he has been prevented from attending because of the code.
“My strategy was to have a press conference and give out my manifesto in three languages and then to travel to 60 plus countries around the world meeting the presidents, articulating my vision,” Miley told Reuters at the Miami Open.
“Then on March 4 the ITF introduced a new code of conduct, which is very different from the old one, the one David Haggerty campaigned under in 2015.
“What the code says is that until the end of May, when they announce the candidates, I am not allowed to give out any material related to my candidacy.
“I can’t go to the regional meetings, which all take place before the end of May and is where all 150 plus countries will be meeting.
“I am not allowed to go around to the federations to talk to all the presidents unless all the candidates come with me.”
Asked about Miley’s charges the ITF said in a statement that the election process is the remit of the Ethics Commission.
“The election rules were delegated by the ITF Board to the Election Panel, which forms part of the Independent ITF Ethics Commission,” said the ITF. “The Election Panel approved the rules and oversees the process in the upcoming election.”
The code of ethics, developed to ensure fair elections, was voted on last October by the ITF board and came into effect at the start of this year.
While Miley has thrown his hat in the ring for the presidency he has not yet been officially nominated — a formality Tennis Ireland is expected to address next month.
Miley said that, while not officially a candidate at present, he was being prevented from distributing his material to reporters under the threat of breaching the new code and being barred from the election.
Miley added that he had was at a distinct disadvantage, which forced him to the sidelines, while Haggerty was free to travel and articulate his policies.
“Look I don’t want to sound like the victim because I’m going to continue to do a positive campaign with tennis at the forefront and I think I have a very good chance,” he said.
“But I was only made aware of and received the new code on March 4 when it was approved by the board last October.”
(Editing by Ken Ferris)