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By Chris Oddo | Tuesday February 20, 2018

When Donald Young accused Ryan Harrison of making racist remarks during a heated contest at the New York Open last week, a firestorm of activity took place on social media and Harrison was castigated, even suffering death threats.

Jones: Harrison Denies Young's Charge of Racial Taunt

A week later and an ATP investigation has cleared the Louisiana native of all charges, while Young has gone eerily silent.

Harrison appeared on Jon Wertheim’s Beyond the Baseline Podcast today to tell his side of the story, and reiterated his innocence as well as going on the attack against Young for defamation (Young was also asked to talk on the podcast but declined to appear).

“It was a very helpless feeling, knowing that I hadn’t said what I was accused of saying and I was in no way in a position to defend myself,” Harrison told Wertheim.

Harrison also stood by his remarks that he had never made any racist remarks—a story that was corroborated by six witnesses who later came forward and told their stories.

“100 percent. There was never a doubt in my mind that anything I said could even be close to interpreted that way,” Harrison said. “When I was so clear and so adamant that I wanted an audio [of the incident] it was because I knew that there was no room for doubt. I was 100 percent sure that any evidence that came forward would clear me, I knew that the audio would clear me. … It was not nice conversation between Donald and I but it was not racial.”

Harrison has not talked to Young since the evening of the match when they were held over to discuss the incident with the ATP supervisor and staff. “We spoke in the immediate aftermath in Tom Barnes’ room,” Harrison said. “He called us in there as the tour supervisor along with the tour manager Konstantine, and asked us both about it. That was where I initially heard of the allegation. I was extremely clear from the start that I had said nothing wrong.”

Harrison said that while he told the tour that he’d sign a waiver that allowed them to suspend him without appeal if they found any evidence of wrongdoing, but that Young would not. “I told Tom Barnes on the spot that I would sign any waiver that said they could suspend me without appeal if any shred of evidence came forth to confirm what Donald said,” he said. “That’s how sure I was. I asked Donald if he would do the same thing and he declined. He did not say that he would sign any sort of waiver saying that he would accept any punishment, or even offer to the way I’d done—that could be confirmed with anybody who was in the room.” Though he has been cleared by the ATP, Harrison said that the blowback is big.

“Now I’m cleared, everybody doesn’t really care or want to talk about it,” he said.

This isn’t the first time there has been bad blood between Young and Harrison. And it sounds like it won’t be the last.

“Donald called me out on Twitter eight years ago, whenever I got selected on Davis Cup for the first time and it didn’t sit well with him,” Harrison said. “Just this time, it’s disappointing that it went to this level of accusation, especially with absolutely no way that it could have been true, but Donald just decided to take this and use this as an opportunity to try to find a way to take a shot at my character. … When you do that you are understanding what the possible fallout is for me if I had actually said that, and the suspension and the fine and all of that would be warranted.”

Harrison would not rule out the possibility of suing Young for character defamation, but isn’t sure of how he’ll proceed.

“In my opinion I think that someone making that sort of accusation should face the exact same sort of repercussions that I would have faced if I had said that, because it sets a terrible precedent that you can say and accuse someone with no validity whatsoever behind and then have no repercussions whatsoever,” he said.

He added: “I think that that’s enough ground to make sure that he faces at least a heavy fine if not a suspension.”


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