The International Tennis Federation took only hours to slam the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision, which cleared tennis player Richard Gasquet of any fault or negligence after the Frenchman earlier tested positive for a cocaine metabolite.
Gasquet, who was tested in March, was given a ban of two months and 15 days by the anti-doping tribunal of the ITF.
The CAS decision on the Gasquet case marked the second setback this week for the ITF’s authority in anti-doping control after Belgians Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse were also cleared of failing to report whereabouts to drug testers.
That pair had been banned for a year but can now return to the sport.
“The ITF is disappointed with today’s decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport to dismiss the ITF’s and WADA’s (World Anti-Doping Agency) appeal against the decision imposed on Richard Gasquet by an independent tribunal in July 2009,” ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said in a statement.
The ITF and WADA appealed to CAS against the sentence, saying that he should be banned for between one and two years.
“The ITF has adopted the World Anti-Doping Code, which provides a right to appeal decisions made under rules pursuant to the Code, and the ITF and WADA have exercised their respective rights in this regard,” added the Ricci Bitti statement.
“The CAS is the ultimate arbiter of such appeals and so the ITF must respect and abide by its decision. The ITF also recognises the potential implications of the CAS decision with respect to future decisions and will discuss these with WADA.” The ITF and WADA are now expected to drag the case out even further in the courts with an appeal against the verdict in favour of Gasquet, a former Wimbledon semifinalist who had firmly plead innocence in the affair.
His lawyers successfully argued that Miami nightclub kisses with an unidentified French girl had caused the positive test.
In a statement CAS said they had reached their decision after evidence provided by experts from both sides 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.
“As a consequence, the possibility of contamination became the most plausible explanation justifying the presence of cocaine metabolite in the players’ urine.
“On a balance of probability, the CAS panel concluded that it was more likely than not that the players 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.” CAS said that the player could not have known that in kissing a woman who he had met in a totally unsuspicious environment, he could be contaminated with cocaine.
They added that even though they did not formally annul the decision of the anti-doping tribunal, this would not count as a first infringement if Gasquet commits a subsequent doping infraction.