Bulgarian teenager denies drugs claim
By Mark Hodgkinson
Sesil Karatantcheva, the Bulgarian teenager who was a quarter-finalist at this year's French Open, has strongly denied allegations in yesterday's editions of L'Equipe, the French sports newspaper, that she failed a drugs test during the Roland Garros fortnight.
The paper has reported that the 16-year-old, who would have been just 15 at the time of the alleged test, had traces of nandrolone, a banned steroid, in a urine sample given after her quarter-final defeat by the Russian, Elena Likhovtseva. It has also been claimed that she attended a hearing held by the International Tennis Federation in London last week and is facing a two-year suspension.
L'Equipe has reported that Karatantcheva defended herself at the hearing by claiming that the raised level of nandrolone in her urine sample was because she was unknowingly pregnant when she was tested, and that she said that she later had a miscarriage. But the paper's report said that a pregnancy test carried out by a French laboratory on her urine sample proved negative.
Karatantcheva, a top-40 player, said that she had not been informed of a positive dope test, and denied that she had appeared at an ITF drugs hearing. "I am shocked. I have not appeared before any ITF judges," she said.
Unconfirmed rumours had been circulating in the sport for some weeks that a woman had tested positive for a banned substance during the French Open. A spokesman for the ITF could not confirm or deny that there was a case against Karatantcheva, but if the reports prove correct it is understood that she would become the first woman in the sport's recent history to commit a serious doping offence.
Karatantcheva has already made a considerable impact on the tour. 'Special K', as she is known, is certainly not lacking in confidence. She came to prominence at this year's French Open by defeating Venus Williams in the third round.
The Bulgarian Tennis Federation said that they had not been contacted about a failed drugs test. "We had no information until today about any positive doping test for Karatantcheva," they said. "The federation want to express their support for her. We sincerely hope that the French newspaper report will not be confirmed."
L'Equipe alleged in October that Argentina's Mariano Puerta, the men's finalist in Paris, tested positive for a banned stimulant after his defeat by Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
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