Er­rani in­sists she is not a cheat af­ter 2-month dop­ing ban

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

For­mer French Open finalist Sara Er­rani strug­gled to hold back the tears yes­ter­day as she in­sisted she is not a cheat af­ter be­ing handed a two-month dop­ing ban. The In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion an­nounced the sus­pen­sion on Mon­day af­ter Er­rani tested pos­i­tive for the banned sub­stance letro­zole in a test taken in Fe­bru­ary.At a news con­fer­ence, Er­rani con­tin­ued to blame food con­tam­i­na­tion from her mother’s breast can­cer med­i­ca­tion.

“The sen­tence speaks clearly: I was found guilty of the in­vol­un­tary in­ges­tion of a sub­stance which does not have a dop­ing ef­fect on a fe­male,” said Er­rani, who re­it­er­ated sev­eral times that letro­zole is not a per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drug.

“I don’t know ex­actly how it could have hap­pened that a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal pill taken by my mother ended up in the food, but it’s the only plau­si­ble op­tion, be­cause we have elim­i­nated all the oth­ers.” The 30-year-old Er­rani was in­formed of the re­sults of the test on April 28 but de­cided to con­tinue play­ing ten­nis in the hope she could avoid a ban. “It is up to the ath­lete whether to con­tinue play­ing or to sus­pend them­selves,” she said. “I de­cided to con­tinue be­cause I knew and I know that I had done noth­ing wrong. “I hoped for and I worked to­ward be­ing found not guilty, un­for­tu­nately the test on my hair that I pre­sented wasn’t ac­cepted be­cause of a le­gal tech­ni­cal­ity ... I have al­ways been a cham­pion of clean sport, and I re­main con­vinced that any­one who vol­un­tar­ily dopes should be banned for life.”An ad­ju­di­ca­tion panel ruled that Er­rani’s fault was “at the lower end of the scale,” but that she should still be banned for two months from Aug. 3.

Er­rani’s ban will end on Oct. 2, pre­clud­ing her from play­ing in the US Open. “I hope this time will give me even more mo­ti­va­tion,” Er­rani said. “I hope to use this time to re­cover from the stress and these aw­ful ex­pe­ri­ences ... I will train my hard­est, as I have al­ways done, to try to re­turn stronger than be­fore.”

The Ital­ian broke down in tears as she added: “It’s a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion for my fam­ily but we have man­aged to be even more united so I’m proud of them.” Er­rani has also been retroac­tively dis­qual­i­fied from tour­na­ments from Feb. 16 through June 7. Her only no­table per­for­mance in that pe­riod was a semi­fi­nal in Ra­bat, Morocco, in May, plus a sec­ond -round loss at Roland Gar­ros.

She an­nounced she would ap­peal against the re­moval of her points earned dur­ing that pe­riod. Er­rani re­peat­edly and heat­edly crit­i­cized the me­dia for re­port­ing false­hoods, adding: “You played with the life and sen­ti­ments of other peo­ple: of me, my mother, my fam­ily ... that makes me very an­gry.” Er­rani reached the 2012 French Open fi­nal, los­ing to Maria Shara­pova, and has com­pleted a ca­reer grand slam in women’s doubles with Roberta Vinci.

The 98th-ranked Er­rani has won nine sin­gles ti­tles and 25 doubles ti­tles in her WTA ca­reer. She reached a ca­reer-high sin­gles rank­ing of No. 5 in 2013. She also helped Italy to three Fed Cup ti­tles. —AP

MEL­BOURNE: In this file photo dated Thurs­day, Jan 19, 2017, Italy’s Sara Er­rani makes a re­turn to Rus­sia’s Eka­te­rina Makarova dur­ing their sec­ond round match at the Aus­tralian Open ten­nis cham­pi­onships in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia. — AP

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