20 Years Of Failed Drug Tests In Tennis – Some Famous Cases

LOS ANGELES, March 8, 2016

Maria Scharapova is not the first tennis player, who is facing a ban from tennis due to a failed drug test. In the following an overwiew of fomer incidents with top-players involved.

1995: Mats Wilander and Karel Novacek were suspended for three months after withdrawing appeals for failing drug tests. In 1997, the former world number one from Sweden and the Czech had to return all prize money earned since May 1995 to the federation. Wilander returned $289,005, Novacek $185,765. Both were tested positive for cocaine at the 1995 French Open.

1998: Following his quarterfinal match against Tim Henman at the All England Championships at Wimbledon 1998, Petr Korda, who captured the Australian Open the same year, was tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone. The Czech was later banned from tennis for 12 months from September 1999 and stripped of the prize money and ranking points that he had won since July 1998.

2001: Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela has been suspended from professional tennis for three months, as he was tested positive for methyltestosterone during the ATP Masters in Cincinnati.

2001: Guillermo Coria was tested positive for nandrolone in April 2001 after a match in Barcelona against Michel Kratochvil. Coria was initially banned from tennis for two years, starting in August 2001, and was fined $98,565.

2003: Mariano Puerta received a two-year doping suspension after testing positive for clenbuterol at Vina del Mar. In his defence, he argued that the substance had been administered to him by his doctor to combat asthma and that it had no performance-enhancing effect. The sanction was subsequently reduced to nine months suspension, effective from October 2003, and a $5,600 fine.

In December 2005, the Argentine was once again banned, this time after it was revealed that he had tested positive for the use of the cardiac stimulant, etilefrine, following his 2005 French Open final loss to Rafael Nadal. The suspension was for eight years, the longest in tennis history at that time. As a result, Puerta was forced to forfeit all his rankings points and prize money from the 2005 French Open onwards, and had all his 2005 results from after the French Open, annulled. Puerta’s runner-up finish at the 2005 French Open was allowed to remain on the record books.

2004: Greg Rusedski tested positive for nandrolone in January 2004, but was cleared of the charges in a hearing in March of the same year.

2005: In August, Guillermo Cañas was suspended for two years and was forced to forfeit $276,070 in prize money by the ATP after testing positive for a diuretic called hydrochlorothiazide.

2007: In November, Martina Hingis called a press conference to announce that she was under investigation for testing positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine during a urine test taken by players at Wimbledon. In January 2008, the former world number one from Switzerland was suspended from the sport for two years by the ITF. She retired the same year but returned to the WTA Tour in 2013.

2009: Andre Agassi admitted using crystal methamphetamine a year before he won the French Open in 1998, and that he lied to the sport’s governing bodies in the same period about a positive drugs test to avoid a ban. Agassi retired after the US-Open 2006.

2009: In May, Richard Gasquet was provisionally suspended after testing positive for cocaine. Traces of the drug were found in his urine sample. In July, he was cleared to return to competitive tennis after a tribunal found that “the cocaine entered his system through inadvertent contamination in a nightclub”.

2009: Belgians Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse received one-year suspensions from anti-doping officials in their homeland. The Flemish Regional Tribunal told that Wickmayer had failed to declare her whereabouts on three occasions, a requirement under World Anti-Doping Agency standards, while Malisse had failed to do so twice and had also missed a test when he was unavailable for testing at an address he had provided.

2012: In February, Barbora Strýcová was banned for six months, backdated to October 2012 until April 2013, after testing positive for the stimulant sibutramine. The ban disqualified all results during the period of the ban and mandates the return of all prizes won during that period.

2013: At Wimledon Marin Čilić had to pull out before his second round match due to a left knee injury where he was scheduled to play Kenny de Schepper. However, a month later it was revealed that Čilić had pulled out as he had been informed that he had failed a drugs test in Munich, allegedly for “incautious use of glucose.” In September, he received a backdated nine-month ban for traces of nikethamide in a urine test. The suspension ran until 1 February 2014 and all prize money and points since the positive test including the Munich tournament were null and forfeited.

2015: In July, Viktor Troicki was banned from playing tennis for 18 months, for failing to provide a blood sample at the ATP Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo. Yet, the suspension was reduced on appeal to one year, meaning he could play from 15 July 2014.

2016: On March 7, Maria Sharapova revealed in a press conference in Los Angeles that she had failed a drug test at the Australian Open, which she described as the result of an oversight. She tested positive for meldonium, an anti-ischemic drug added to the World Anit-Doping Agency’s banned substances list in 2016. Sharapova claimed that her doctor had been prescribing the medication to her since 2006. As a result of the failed drugs test, Nike has “suspended its relationship”, and Tag Heuer has “cut its ties” with Sharapova. On 8 June, the Russian was banned from tennis for two years.