The German Tennis Association (DTB) wants to get rid of its Vice President Dirk Hordorff and has again asked him to resign. The obudsman of the association and the spokesman of the federal committee, in which the individual state associations are represented, joined the demand. There is an accusation that the official is said to have sexually harassed players he coached for years. The allegations were confirmed by numerous people, as research by various media revealed.
The official denies all allegations and refuses to resign from his office. "Mr. Hordorff rejects the allegations made as simply untrue. He is confident that this will be confirmed," said his lawyer recently. Hordorff is currently on hiatus, which his lawyer says is not related to the allegations. That is why the DTB is now resorting to the last resort: Should Hordorff not resign of his own accord, an extraordinary general meeting should be convened to get rid of the functionary, who is considered to be very influential.
One of the men accusing Hordorff is former talent Maximilian Abel, now 41 years old. According to his own statement, he was exposed to sexual harassment and abuse of power for years. He left school at the age of 16 to become a tennis pro. He became a member of Hordorff's training group. Abel was considered a great talent, some already saw him as the legitimate successor to Boris Becker and Michael Stich.
"In the beginning he touched his back, stomach, and then he worked his way down to his buttocks," Abel said: "It was very uncomfortable and I thought, what kind of crap is he doing there." Hordorff described the scanning as "muscle checks". At first he was clothed during the scan, later he had to undress down to his underpants. It first started in the changing room, later he came to Hordorff's apartment. According to his own statement, Abel had to do push-ups and abdominal muscle exercises almost naked and was massaged.
The worst incident happened in Hamburg during an ATP tournament in May 2003. Because Abel Hordorff lied, he wanted to punish him. The young player had to undress on instructions and go "in dog position" naked on the hotel bed. Dirk Hordorff took the belt out of his pants. "Then he pulled through 20 times," Abel told the "NDR, the "Sportschau" and the "Süddeutsche Zeitung": I was shocked, I felt like shit."
As a young player, he even played a match against Roger Federer, but he didn't make the breakthrough to become an established professional. Instead, he crashed and is currently serving a seven-year sentence for credit card fraud. Other players also reported similar incidents with Hordorff.
One of them is the Indian tennis pro Sriram Balaji, who at the age of 33 still plays as a professional on the ATP tour. He came to Hesse as a 20-year-old on a scholarship from the Indian Football Association to improve his game. Hordorff was then president of the Hessian state association. He came to his room at least once a week. Hordorff also carried out the alleged "muscle checks" on him. "He touched me all over my body, just not my genitals," he said. That's normal in Germany, he thought. Once he stayed in Hordorff's apartment and was supposed to sleep naked on the sofa.
In addition to Abel and Balaji, according to an anonymous witness, there was a group of young people who considered addressing Hordorff's behavior at the association. They abandoned their plan because they were afraid of the possible consequences - and still are today.
The DTB has known about the allegations since February 2022 at the latest, after Abel informed the association about the incidents in a letter in February 2022. A law firm was then commissioned to investigate the allegations, the results of which are now available. The DTB keeps the results under lock and key "to protect everyone involved", but said in a statement: "The investigation comes to the conclusion that the allegation of misconduct cannot be proven with certainty."
Critics such as Maximilian Klein from the German Athletes Interest Group complain that the investigation by the DTB does not go far enough. An investigation must "systematically look into the past" and also reveal who has remained silent and "which structures have failed".
Sources: "NDR", "Sportschau", "Süddeutsche Zeitung"