Fed Cup: Nadia Comaneci defends Ilie Nastase over outburst

Ilie Nastase
Ilie Nastase (pictured) and Nadia Comaneci are the two most high-profile sports stars in Romania

Legendary Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci has defended compatriot Ilie Nastase following his outburst during the Fed Cup win over Great Britain.

Romania captain Nastase swore at the umpire before abusing Johanna Konta and GB captain Anne Keothavong on Saturday.

He was banned from the tie and later handed a provisional suspension by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

"Ilie is very patriotic and sometimes he says things that he doesn't really mean," said Comaneci.

"Everybody in Romania loves Ilie because he is Ilie."

"Ilie is responsible for what comes out of his mouth, and I think it is important in sport that you keep the respect and good behaviour," she added.

"He will have to deal with it [the consequences], but he can survive whatever happens to him. People make mistakes."

Comaneci later posted on social media that she "cannot condone or defend" Nastate's "ugly" remarks and warned that the 70-year-old must accept any punishment imposed by the ITF.

Nadia Comaneci
Nadia Comaneci became the first gymnast in Olympic history to be awarded a perfect 10 at the Montreal Games in 1976

The ITF is investigating Nastase's conduct in Constanta on Saturday, and also derogatory comments he made relating to the unborn child of 23-time Grand Slam singles champion.

The organisation said the provisional suspension meant Nastase "shall be denied access to any ITF event, including the Fed Cup", pending further investigation into "a breach of the Fed Cup welfare policy".

ITF president David Haggerty said: "One of the principles that is important is that we want a rigorous process that is fair.

"We will also hear Nastase's side of the argument. It will be a thorough process conducted in an efficient manner. I do not think you will be hearing any final decisions in the next two weeks."

Despite that, Nastase returned to the site as Britain were beaten 3-1 on Sunday.

He was later ordered to leave after entering the VIP restaurant, BBC Sport's tennis correspondent Russell Fuller reported.

A spokesperson for the ITF told BBC Sport on Monday the organisation was aware of Nastase re-entering the venue on Sunday.

But, as the investigation is ongoing, no further comment will be made.

Nastase said on Monday: "I don't regret it and they can send me to prison if they want - I don't care."

The Times reported on Monday that the All England Club has held initial discussions about Nastase's behaviour and will not invite him into the Royal Box at Wimbledon this year.

An All England Club spokesman told the Press Association: "Invitations to the Royal Box are at the discretion of the chairman and committee of management who will take into account a range of factors, including any suspensions, when determining the guest list for the Championships."

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