Richard Gasquet appeared before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland on Tuesday to defend his contaminated-by-a-cocaine-kiss excuse before a panel of lawyers. The World Anti Doping Agency and the International Tennis Federation are appealing an independent tribunal’s decision that allowed Gasquet to return to tennis after being side-lined for just 2 1/2 months for a doping offense. WADA and the ITF want him out of the sport for at least a year.
Gasquet was officially suspended from competition in early May, after testing positive for cocaine at the Miami Masters tournament at the end of March. He missed the French Open and Wimbledon while the ITF assembled an independent anti-doping tribunal. The tribunal bought Gasquet’s claim that he had unknowingly ingested the recreational drug while kissing a cocaine user known as “Pamela” in Miami, and cleared him to return to the sport in July.
But WADA and the ITF feel that Gasquet got off too easy and want him held to “the strictest standards of the WADA Code — which makes athletes responsible for any substance found in their body.”
“Everything went as expected and Richard Gasquet has, of course, had his chance to speak,” CAS secretary-general Matthieu Reeb said after the seven-hour hearing. “Now the arbitrators will begin their deliberations, which are going to take around three to four weeks until a final judgment will be communicated to the parties.” (via the AP)
Officials say they hope to make the decision well before January’s Australian Open.
I hope everything works out for Gasquet. At this point, a one year ban seems overly harsh for a recreational drug, no matter how he ingested it. But with Andre Agassi’s admission that he used a similar – I’d argue more believable – explanation to get out of his own failed drug test, it’s a bad time to be a tennis player on the defense.
Just ask Belgian players Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse. They may be appealing to the CAS themselves, after being handed one-year suspensions by a Belgian anti-doping group last week.
Gosh, with all this WADA talk and Serena’s US Open-related punishment upcoming, tennis is getting downright gloomy.
Gasquet’s sharp suit lifts the spirits a little bit: