It’s the most wonderful time of the year. . .if you’re a tennis player fighting a doping charge. Richard Gasquet was vindicated today by the Court of Arbitration of Sport, the tribunal throwing out a joint ITF/WADA appeal of the original tribunal’s decision to accept Gasquet’s “I kissed a girl” excuse.
Some excerpts from the CAS statement (via NYTimes)
“The player has been exonerated from any fault or negligence and the CAS has dismissed the appeals filed by the ITF (International Tennis Federation) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency).”
“The panel based its ruling on the evidence provided by the experts called by both the player and the ITF, who agreed that the amount of cocaine metabolite was so minute that it must have reflected incidental exposure, rather than use in the amounts commonly taken by social users of cocaine.”
“It was also established that the player was clearly not a regular cocaine user, even in very small amounts. As a consequence, the possibility of contamination became the most plausible explanation justifying the presence of cocaine metabolite in the player’s urine.”
“On a balance of probability, the CAS panel concluded that it was more likely than not that the player’s contamination with cocaine resulted, as Gasquet always asserted, from kissing a woman in a nightclub in Miami on the day before the anti-doping test and that the player had met the required standards of proof with respect to the way of ingestion.
“The parties’ experts agreed that the minute amount of cocaine could have been transferred in this manner. The arbitrators added that it was impossible for the player, even when exercising the utmost caution, to know that in kissing a woman who he had met in a totally unsuspicious environment, he could be contaminated with cocaine.”
The Frenchman’s coach, Eric Deblicker, told Eurosport that the case has been weighing on Gasquet for the last few weeks:
”This is a huge relief, mostly for Richard and for the people close to him,” Deblicker said. ”The most important thing now is to see him enjoying on the court.” (via NYTimes)
So Richard can now continue his career free and clear but will it make a difference? He’s had spotty results since his provisional return to the tour this August, including three first round exits and three quarterfinal or better appearances. It would be great if the conclusion of this stressful experience relaxed the internal pressure that’s plagued him in the past, and if the close call with career death kindled the child prodigy’s passion for the game. He’ll get his chance to shine soon enough. Gasquet’s playing in Brisbane and Sydney before hitting the Australian Open, where he’s never made it past the fourth round.