The Times of London’s tennis reporter, Neil Harman, has admitted to plagiarism in writing that appeared in a 2013 annual for Wimbledon. After the accusations and admission, Harman was suspended “pending an investigation into allegations of plagiarism,” according to the Guardian.
Harman is considered “a pre-eminent figure in the tennis press,” Slate reported.
He confessed to “unattributed writing” in an e-mail to the International Tennis Writers’ Association and resigned from the association.
“There can be no excuse for such shoddy work, which I deeply regret,” he wrote. “I did it without malice aforethought, but that I did it at all is simply inexcusable.”
He added, “This is a marked stain on my reputation and (I hope) good name.”
The e-mail admission was published on the website Changeover.
Slate published a lengthy report on Harman’s plagiarism for the Wimbeldon annual. Harman’s writing plagiarized “14 large passages” according to Slate, including from Sports Illustrated, the Guardian, the Times of London, the Telegraph, the Independent, and New York Daily News.
In total, Slate found “at least 42” instances of plagiarism in Harman’s work.
“While some of the examples I found were as short as a single borrowed sentence, the majority spanned multiple paragraphs, usually with no attribution whatsoever,” Slate reported.
Slate reported that the U.K. magazine Private Eye first busted Harman’s plagiarism for the 2013 annual months ago but just this summer Wimbledon stopped selling the book.
And even though Wimbledon knew about the plagiarism, they still let Harman have media credentials this year, according to Slate. iMediaEthics has asked Wimbledon for comment about the claims it knew about the plagiarism but continued to sell the book.
Slate pulled together the following side-by-side comparison to illustrate the extent of his copying and pasting. The texts are essentially verbatim.
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“In the second set, Bartoli comforted herself like a 12-year veteran, going through her routines between points—quirky as they are—and betraying little emotion. Stephens looked the part of the 20-year-old sophomore, rolling her eyes at misses, taking more risks than the situation demanded, approaching the net as though under duress. After recovering from a 3-5 deficit and rousing the crowd, Stephens had all kinds of opportunities to level the match. Forehand sailed long, backhands curled wide, first serves hit the net. Bartoli won 6-4, 7-5.”
Harman in the annual, verbatim content is bolded.
“In the second set, Bartoli comforted herself like a 12-year veteran, going through her routines between points—quirky as they are—and betraying little emotion. Stephens looked the part of the 20-year-old learner-player, taking more risks than the situation demanded, approaching the net with small steps rather than entirely confident in her movement. After recovering from a 3-5 deficit which roused the crowd, Stephens had all kinds of opportunities to level the match. Instead, forehands sailed long, backhands curled wide, first serves hit the net. Bartoli won 6-4, 7-5.”
Harman did apologize to the Sports Illustrated writer Jon Wertheim, according to Slate. “When I spoke with Neil he was thoroughly contrite and offered no mitigating explanation other than to express that it was an error born of haste and carelessness.”
Harman has apparently deleted his Twitter account.
iMediaEthics has written to the Times and ITWA for comment.
UPDATE: 7/26/2014 10:20 AM EST
Sebastián Fest from ITWA responded to iMediaEthics’ request for comment about Harman and his resignation from ITWA. Fest wrote:
“Neil Harman resigned his membership of the International Tennis Writers’ Association on July 23, 2014. He did so as the story about him was breaking.
“As everyone has since seen on the internet, in his letter of resignation to ITWA, he admitted to unprofessional conduct in the writing of the 2013 Wimbledon annual. As a result, his resignation was accepted immediately.
“As of the morning (BST) of July 23, Neil Harman was no longer a member of ITWA and, therefore, ITWA cannot comment further on the matter.”
CORRECTION - July 28, 2014 08:08 AM
An earlier version of this headline said Neil Harman worked for the Sunday Times. He works for the Sunday Times’ sister newspaper, the Times of London. We regret the error.