After tears, appeals and an injunction by a Belgian court, has the ITF finally relented to letting at least one of the banned Belgians return to the tour? Yanina Wickmayer’s camp thinks so:
The ITF has authorized Yanina Wickmayer’s return to the circuit, her agent Olivier Van Lindonk tells Belgian wire service Belga.
Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse had their one-year bans provisionally lifted by a Brussels court on Monday, but were not eligible to return until the ruling was recognized by the ITF.
Van Lindonk could not confirm whether the ITF has also reinstated Malisse.
Wickmayer and Malisse were suspended last month by a Belgian anti-doping panel for not fulfilling their whereabouts requirements, but if the latest court ruling holds, they can continue to compete on the circuit until the Court of Arbitration delivers a verdict on their appeal some time in the first half of next year. (via tennis.com)
But as of post time, the ITF has yet to release any statement confirming Wickmayer’s agent’s claims. Earlier today, an ITF spokesman said it was still considering the case:
“The ITF has now heard from the National Anti-Doping Organisation Flanders and we are seeking counsel from our legal advisors and (World Anti-Doping Agency) WADA,” an ITF spokesman said.
The Court of First Instance in Brussels suspended the Flemish doping tribunal’s original ban on Monday, citing administrative errors with the way it was imposed.
Anticipating that the ITF will go along with the court’s decision to suspend the ban, the ABS Classic in New Zealand has already offered Wickmayer a wild card into the January tournament. Yanina is also hoping for wild card entree into the Australian Open draw, but organizers haven’t made any promises.
“The rules of ITF and WTA is that if you’re sanctioned you’re unable to enter. Entries are now closed,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said yesterday. (via The Australian)
“We’re not penalising her (for drug ban), it’s just unfortunate that she’s a victim of circumstances.”
Of the eight wildcards available for the women’s singles draw, five have been taken (that includes one for Wickmayer’s returning countrywoman, Justine Henin.) Tennis Australia usually reserves the three remaining for “rising stars or for players who have proven themselves on the ITF circuit.”
For some background on the case, click here.