Richard Gasquet has been given “time served” for testing positive for cocaine in March, and is free to return to tour immediately.
From the AFP this morning:
PARIS (AFP) — France’s Richard Gasquet, who tested positive for cocaine during the Miami Masters in March, was handed a two-and-a-half month suspension on Wednesday, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced.
Gasquet had been provisionally suspended in May following a positive test of his A sample and the B sample has come back positive, the ITF said.
However, the ITF added that the 23-year-old will be able to return to action as from Wednesday, with the ban retroactive to May.
The ITF said Gasquet’s sample from the ATP event in Miami contained benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine banned in-competition under the World Anti-Doping Association’s 2009 List of Prohibited Substance.
But the ITF tribunal accepted his plea of ‘no significant fault or negligence’, the player having insisted that the cocaine entered his system through inadvertent contamination in a nightclub.
The ITF ruled that a longer ban would have been disproportionate.
Gasquet, who eventually did not play in Miami because of a shoulder injury, also retains his results, ranking points and prize money from events subsequent to Miami.
This is good news for tennis fans! No one wins when players are disproportionately punished for trace amounts of recreational drugs in their system. The fact that Gasquet has already served more time than doping Dodger Manny Ramirez seems patently unfair.
Martina Hinigs retired in 2007 after she tested positive for cocaine, saying she had “no desire to spend the next several years of my life reduced to fighting against the doping officials.” The ITF suspended Martina for two years, with the ban lifting this October. She’s said that a comeback isn’t realistic at this point. (Wait, what’s that Adidas phrase, again? Impossible is Nothing, Martina!)
I am very interested to see if this relatively short suspension (though missing two Majors isn’t exactly a light punishment) helps motivate Gasquet and refocus his significant talents. He’s currently ranked #32 in the world and has had lackluster results for most of the season.