Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Time is Served...

ITF Press Release
Decision in the case of Richard Gasquet
London, England, 15 Jul 2009 - The International Tennis Federation announced today that an independent Anti-Doping Tribunal convened under the 2009 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme has found that Richard Gasquet, a 23-year-old French tennis player, has committed a Doping Offence.

Following a two-day hearing in July 2009, an independent Anti-Doping Tribunal found that a sample provided by Mr Gasquet on 28 March 2009 at the ATP event in Miami, USA, had tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine. Cocaine is a substance that is banned In-Competition under WADA’s 2009 List of Prohibited Substances, and is therefore also prohibited under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme on the same basis.

The Tribunal rejected the suggestion made by Mr Gasquet that, by virtue of his withdrawal prior to playing a match in the Miami event, the sample provided by him on 28 March should be treated as having been collected Out-of-Competition. In that regard, it upheld the applicability, and the legality, of Article F.4 of the Programme, which provides that a player who withdraws from an event may be target-tested and that such test is to be treated as an In-Competition test, even if the player withdraws before playing a match. The Tribunal therefore found that Mr Gasquet had committed a Doping Offence under Article C.1 of the Programme (presence of a Prohibited Substance in player’s sample).

With regard to sanction,
the Tribunal accepted Mr Gasquet’s plea of No Significant Fault or Negligence, on the basis that he was able to demonstrate on the balance of probabilities how the cocaine entered his system (through inadvertent contamination in a nightclub the night before his scheduled match), and that, while he was at fault in exposing himself to the risk of such contamination, that fault was not significant. It further ruled that, in the exceptional and “probably unique” circumstances of the case, it would be unjust and disproportionate to impose a 12-month sanction on Mr Gasquet. Instead it ruled that Mr Gasquet be suspended from participation for a period of two months and 15 days, commencing on 1 May 2009, and thus ending at 08:00 GMT on 15 July 2009. It also ruled that his results, ranking points and prize money from events subsequent to Miami should remain undisturbed.

(Source: ITF)

Well thank goodness for that.

You'll not find a word spoken in support of recreational drugs here, but only a fool would lump him together with the steroid users.

Having said that, I do believe having players 'partying' brings the sport into disrepute, so I can't say I'm unhappy about how stringent the authorities were.

I'm very much in the camp of those who'd like to see him live up to his potential (especially as I can't get enough of his backhand!); he seems to have enough trouble with that without getting embroiled in drugs scandals.

He strikes me as more of a naive kid caught dabbling, well and truly out of his depth - kinda like when Tim Henman, perhaps in answer to his critics, expressed his anger for the first time out on court, by thrashing a ball in anger....which promptly ended up on a ball girl's head, giving Henman the dubious honour of being the first ever player to be disqualified from Wimbledon.

Missing out two Slam's is probably punishment enough.

What interests me though is,
how this squares up with the curious case of Martina Hingis.

She chose not to defend her two year ban, also for the use of recreational drugs.

I'm curious, what makes Gasquet's position any different from hers?

All's well that ends well, and thankfully common sense has prevailed in this instance; so to commemorate his return to tour, can we get an exho match arranged between Stanislas and himself dubbed 'Battle of the Backhands'?

"The 'single-handed' argument in favour of Gasquet's return to tour"

Both players will be required to return every shot with their backhand, even if that means having to run around shots fired to their forehand. Every ball must be taken early, and fiercely struck, though extra points will be awarded for prolonging rallies.
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