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Gasquet faces two-year ban after failed drug test

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:32

World No.23 Richard Gasquet has failed a drugs test after testing positive for cocaine, but insists he will clear his name.

I am gathering together proof of my innocence and I will choose an appropriate moment to express myself, Gasquet said in a statement on Sunday.

Press reports in France yesterday broke the news that traces of the recreational drug were discovered in an A-sample taken at the Miami Masters, according to sources at the French Tennis Federation and at Team Lagardere, the 22-year-old’s training base.

And Gasquet told reporters that the B sample from the March tournament confirmed the result of the A sample taken that same day.

I am gathering together proof of my innocence and I will choose an appropriate moment to express myself” – Gasquet

Initial reports suggested that the transgression would warrant a three-month ban for a first offence. However, L’Equipe reports that the situation is far more serious than first thought. “Traces of cocaine were found in Richard Gasquet’s urine sample [in Miami] and he had to forfeit the tournament.

“The trace level was 1.46 micrograms, far above the sensitivity threshold of 0.5 used by accredited laboratories. If this is confirmed, Gasquet faces a two year ban.”

The FFT has been made aware of Gasquet’s failed drugs test, but is waiting for confirmation from the ITF. “The FFT has learnt of the positive test of Richard Gasquet at the Miami tournament, although no official notification has been made,” the governing body of French tennis said in a statement.

“This piece of information, that is very surprising…would be, if confirmed according to official proceedings, a very sad one for Richard Gasquet himself, for tennis in general and for French tennis in particular,” the statement read.

“As for now, the FFT does not wish to make further comments because it is up to the anti-doping authorities, within the International Tennis Federation, to assess such a case.”

“This piece of information would be, if confirmed, a very sad one for Gasquet and for French tennis” – FFT

The Frenchman denies the charges, saying he had submitted himself to an independent test and that a hair analysis “showed no trace of cocaine”.

Former Wimbledon semi-finalist Gasquet has withdrawn from a number of tournaments this year, and had pulled out of his opening match in Miami against Albert Montanes citing a shoulder problem.

He withdrew from this week’s tournament in Estoril with a neck injury and is not playing at next week’s Madrid Masters. It is not clear whether or not his withdrawal is related to the accusations.

The news marks a new low point for Gasquet. Considered one of tennis’s brightest talents as a youngster, the Frenchman turned pro in 2002 with many expecting him to end France’s ongoing 26-year wait for a Grand Slam champion, and hit a career high world No.7 ranking in 2007 after reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

But he endured a nightmare 2008, deposed from his spot as French No.1 as the likes of Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils emerged from the wings.

Semi-final appearances in Brisbane, Sydney and Dubai promised signs of a return to form in 2009 before his injury problems reportedly returned.

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