Former French Open finalist Sara Errani has been handed a two-month ban after testing positive for a cancer treatment drug letrozole, which can increase body mass, in February. The 30-year-old said that she must have accidentally ingested drugs being used by her mother through contaminated food.
Though an independent tribunal set up by the International Tennis Federation has accepted Errani’s explanation, she has still been handed a suspension as the Federation felt that she could have done more to prevent this happening, but the maximum punishment of a two-year ban for an accidental violation of this type was considered excessive.
And subsequently, following a hearing last month, a suspension was imposed from 3 August and she will be eligible to compete again on 3 October. This also implies that all her results from the date of her positive out-of-competition test on 16 February until a negative test on 7 June have been annulled and all ranking points and prize money accrued in this period have had to be forfeited.
In response to the ban, the Italian who is currently ranked 98th in the world said on Twitter, “I feel very frustrated but I can only try to stand still and wait for this period to finish. I am extremely disappointed but at the same time at peace with my conscience and aware I haven’t done anything wrong, neither have I committed any negligence against the anti-doping program.”
In response to the ITF’s charge, Errani had based her case on the fact that she had been visiting her parents shortly before her positive test and her mother, who has suffered from breast cancer, stored her drugs close to an area used to prepare food and contamination was possible as there were times where when pills had been dropped or spilled.
As far as the sport is concerned, though there is no evidence Letrozole would enhance the performance of an elite tennis player, it was banned because the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) believed that it was being abused by bodybuilders.
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