Tennis and Drugs
MONTREAL--Having Richard Gasquet first on Centre Court today at the Rogers Cup inevitably brings up stories of Gasquet's brief drug suspension, more newsworthy after American player Robert Kendrick was handed a one-year ban by the International Tennis Federation last month.
Gasquet's story is one of more than a few from the tennis world that strains credulity. He was suspended in 2009 after testing positive for cocaine, but he appealed and later had his suspension dropped after a two-and-a-half month period when the ITF accepted his explanation that he had ingested the substance after kissing a woman at a nightclub.
These days, Gasquet, once rated the best junion in the world, is the third-ranked player in France and pushing back up the ATP rankings. He plays Germany's Florian Mayer today.
Kendrick, 31, was suspended late last month after testing positive for a banned stimulant at the French Open. He claimed the substance was in a capsule he took to combat jet lag and is appealing the suspension in hopes of having the suspension reduced. He's ranked 110th in the world. His best result this season was a quarter-final appearance at Memphis where he was beaten by Canada's Milos Raonic, who then went on to lose the final to Andy Roddick.
Earlier this month, American player Wayne Odesnik returned to the tour after a one-year ban for importing human growth hormone into Australia, which he admitted. The 25-year-old, born in South African, has ranked as high as 77th in the world.
Other tennis suspensions for drug use have been equally odd. Petr Korda was suspended for using steroids in 1998, which he claimed got into his body by eating too much veal. Martina Hingis, most famously, was banned for two years in 2008 when trace amounts of cocaine were detected in her system. She has never stopped proclaiming her innocence, and tests of her hair follicles found no evidence of cocaine.