Re: Effect of doping to a tennis match
Doping row over top trio
By Karen Lyon
January 18, 2005
Three of the top women at this year's Australian Open have been caught up in a drugs row on the opening day of the first grand slam tournament of the year after a Belgian government minister claimed one of them tested positive in pre-Christmas exhibition tournament in Belgium last month.
Highly rated Russian seeds Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva, and France's top woman Nathalie Dechy, have been caught up in the drugs controversy after Belgian officials made public the positive result - although not the name of the player - in a bid to clear the fourth player in the exhibition, the 2004 Australian Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne.
Last night, the WTA - the governing body of women's tennis - moved to discredit the story, issuing a statement saying it had not been informed of any positive test.
"Reports regarding drug testing conducted at an exhibition event in Belgium outside of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program are inaccurate. Neither the WTA Tour, the named players, Tennis Australia, nor the ITF has been contacted by the Belgian authorities. These are unsubstantiated rumours and it would be irresponsible to comment any further," said WTA chief executive Larry Scott.
The confusion has been caused because the testing was undertaken by Belgian Government authorities rather than tennis officials.
Last year's Australian Open started with a drug controversy when it was announced Britain's Greg Rusedski had failed a drug test for nandrolone. He fought the charges and was later exonerated. In the past, players occasionally have failed drug tests because bodies not associated with tennis have not known of certain exemptions allowed for personal health issues.
US Open champion Kuznetsova beat American Jessica Kirkland 6-1, 6-1 yesterday, but the drugs issue overshadowed the result. She said she had not been told of any results from the Belgian test and was critical they had been made public before the players had been notified.
"I think definitely it's unfair to every player because every (one) of us is thinking like, 'What is going on?', you know. I'm not worried that much about it because the truth anyway comes out," said the Russian.
Kuznetsova said she had been tested 11 times last year, including four times during Russia's historic Fed Cup victory at the end of the year. "I think I'm the player who has been most tested. Other players, they have been tested the same amount of times, like 10, nine, eight . . . So I'm pretty sure that everybody's clean. Maybe something happen, it was like a mistake, but you never know.
"The anti-doping program doesn't allow us to take nothing. Even if you are sick."
Despite reports in Belgium suggesting the player had been notified - as is the procedure after the A-sample test has been completed - all three players claimed innocence and denied knowledge of the positive test.
Dementieva, the tournament's sixth seed and runner-up in last year's French and US Opens, said: "I don't know anything about it. They didn't speak to me, so it wasn't me."
Dechy said nobody had approached her, or French tennis authorities, about the drug test.
"We had an unexpected test (in Belgium). They told us that, if there was a problem, they would contact us two or three weeks later. I haven't heard anything and nor have the French federation. I think I am clean. I have no idea about the others," she said.
Belgian Sports Minister Claude Eerdekens revealed the positive test to the local news agency, Belga, at the weekend.
Eerdekens said the test results had been forwarded to the International Tennis Federation, the Belgian Tennis Federation and the player's national body.