Andy Murray has blamed the lack of coronavirus protocols at a training facility for the virus that forced him out of the Australian Open.
The former world number one tested positive for the coronavirus on 11 January, leaving him unable to take up his seat on a charter flight organised by Tennis Australia.
Murray, 33, insists he picked up the virus while training at the Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) flagship National Tennis Centre (NTC) in London.
He said: “I stuck to all of the protocols that were in place. I didn’t leave my house or the NTC for the 10 weeks of training. I was very careful because it’s not just for tennis reasons.”
The outbreak at the facility also infected a doctor and another British player Paul Jubb.
Meanwhile, Murray passed the virus on to his wife Kim and their three young children.
He added: “I was p***ed off that I missed the tournament and wasn’t able to go to Australia from a personal perspective but then the wider, more important, point is that it’s not just about a tennis tournament when I am going back and giving the virus to all of my family and infecting them. I care about that a lot.
“I still am gutted about it. When I’m sitting in my hotel room here when I’m obviously healthy and fit and ready to play and compete, seeing the tournaments going on over there is tough, because I’d prepared really, really well, it had probably been the best two or three months’ training that I had done in the last few years.”
Murray said the NTC had been more strict during the first lockdown in April but after Christmas, some of the centre’s users were not respecting the rules.
“When we went to the NTC in April last year, if there are six indoor courts, you could only practise on one, three and five,” said the three-time grand slam champion.
“There wasn’t any testing at that time but the gym was closed and it was restricted access. It was very different.
“Whereas after Christmas you obviously have an indoor venue where they are using all six courts, there were tonnes of people in the gym and it was just totally different.”
Restrictions have since been tightened, with more testing, the lounge closed and greater social distancing, but Murray said this was all “too late”.
British number one Dan Evans backed Murray, saying: “I think Christmas period and the New Year period maybe slackened a little bit. Obviously the doctor had COVID as well, so that coincided with I think players then getting it when she was isolating.
“If I was being a bit harsh, without being rude to some players, (they) probably shouldn’t have been in there.
“I was pretty nervous the last few days because obviously we knew the virus was there.”
The LTA said: “As the recent positive cases recorded in quarantine in Australia have shown, even with the strictest precautions, it is impossible to eradicate all risk of exposure, either within a single location or in the wider community
“We have consistently applied the stringent and appropriate restrictions, testing and other protocols for elite training centres in line with government guidance.
“Our protocols are regularly communicated to everyone using the venue and we expect them to be adhered to in the player lounge and all other areas of the building.
“It is impossible for LTA staff to police every part of the building continuously, and ultimately individuals are responsible for their own behaviour and ensuring they follow the rules to protect themselves and others.”
Murray, meanwhile, begins his season this week at a second-tier event in Biella, Italy.
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