Former World Number 5 and 2012 French Open runner-up Sara Errani, says she is disgusted as her drugs ban was increased from two to ten months.
The 31-year old Italian tested positive for the banned substance Letrozole, and was initially banned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in August last year, who slapped a two month ban on her and declared her results from February to June as void.
However, the Italian anti-doping agency asked for a longer ban, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has now agreed with them, extending her suspension by another 8 months.
What is unusual about this case, however, is that the drug in question was being taken by her mother as part of her treatment for breast cancer, and worked its way into the family meal of tortellini when tablets were accidentally dropped on a kitchen work surface whilst the food was being prepared.
The explanation has been accepted by CAS, who, this week said that Errani was guilty of a “light offence”.
Nevertheless, they decided to hand down the extended ban, despite the fact that there is no evidence that Letrozole, which increases lean body mass and has been banned by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) over concerns it was being abused by bodybuilders, enhances the performance of tennis players.
The winner of five Grand Slam doubles titles reacted with fury to the news saying:
“I am really disgusted by this matter. I don’t think anything similar has ever happened or been managed in such a shameful manner. I never took any performance substance in all my life; I love tennis too much to do something like that.”
Whilst the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sport is a serious matter that needs to be dealt with by the authorities with the utmost seriousness, in Errani’s case the treatment seems to have been very harsh for what appears to be a simple, human error.
As such, she deserves the last word: “I find this very unfair treatment and I want to shout it, holding my head up high, because I am sure I have nothing to reproach myself about”.
Some of the other tennis players, including some high-profile names who have been given penalties for doping in tennis include Marin Cilic following a tournament in Munich, Viktor Troicki, who refused to take a blood test at Monte Carlo, Richard Gasquet who had his ban overturned after being suspended for ingesting cocaine, the 1992 Wimbledon winner Andre Agassi, Greg Rusedski and Maria Sharapova.