Pickleball Pro Responds to $50K Fine, Suspension

Andrei Daescu and his paddle during a pro pickleball match.
Not even halfway through his 2024 season, pro Andrei Daescu has already experienced massive highs and crushing lows.

In March, he and temporary partner Anna Bright pulled off a win against the juggernauts Anna Leigh Waters & Ben Johns.

Now, Andrei is suspended from play for 60 days, has to cough up a whopping $50,000 fine to UPA (PPA's/MLP's new parent company), and is "on probation" for a whole year.

How'd Andrei End Up Here?

  • On Tuesday, UPA drops a statement identifying Andrei as the player whose paddle failed an onsite test during MLP Atlanta.
  • Further testing revealed an illegal substance was indeed on the paddle's face.
  • The statement confirms that "at no point was the paddle in question used during competition in Atlanta."

Since that announcement earlier this week, we'd read countless posts claiming that this was an accident; that Andrei or a teammate accidentally replaced a legal, unaltered paddle with an altered one.

We've also heard that pros sometimes alter their practice paddles to simulate certain conditions while drilling. They'll have a hitting partner use the altered paddle to make returning the ball more difficult (again, during practice).

His Response

On Thursday, Andrei released a statement via his Instagram and Threads accounts which affirms suspicions that this mishap was unintentional:

"I am pained by the recent events," his statement begins.

"This was an unfortunate mishap. I would NEVER cheat.

"There was no intent to use the paddle in question during competition; it was mistakenly submitted for testing. The paddle has never been used in competition.

"The UPA has rules and policies. Paddle testing is the player's responsibility. I will abide by their decision."

Considering that, not too long ago, $50K used to be an unattainable yearly salary for pro pickleball players, we can't help but be stunned by the punishment. But we are admittedly pretty impressed with the professionalism in Andrei's response.

Clearly, UPA is trying to make an example of the situation.

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