WIMBLEDON – A decade ago, Mexico’s Cesar Ramirez was the No. 3 junior in the world, a great hope for a tennis nation that hadn’t had a prospect of this quality in awhile.
But on Thursday, the ITF issued a provisional suspension after a positive doping test.
At a Mexico City Challenger in mid-April, Ramirez’s urine sample tested positive for metabolites of nandrolone (19-norandrosterone); boldenone or boldenone-related steroids, drostanolone and old-school stanozolol were found.
That is a fairly comprehensive cocktail.
The ITF charged Ramirez on June 14. The suspension took effect on Thursday. He chose not to exercise his right to apply to have the provisional suspension heard by the Independent Tribunal.
A hearing will determine the length of his suspension.
Now 28, Ramirez had not played singles since October 2015. He had been playing doubles, but hadn’t competed outside of Mexico since Sept. 2015.
A former top junior
Once upon a time, Ramirez had been a legitimate top prospect.
A decade ago, in his final year of juniors, he reached the doubles final at the Australian Open juniors with Canadian Vasek Pospisil. Ramirez was the top gun; Pospisil, whose junior singles career was relatively modest in terms of the Slams, was the kid all the top guys wanted to play doubles with.
Ramirez was ranked No. 3 after the 2008 Australian Open, among a quality crop of juniors around that time.
He lost to eventual champion Grigor Dimitrov in the Wimbledon junior quarterfinals, reached the French Open junior semis. Bernard Tomic defeated him in the Australian Open junior quarterfinals.
Nicknamed “El Tiburón”, Ramirez also played Davis Cup for Mexico in 2012 and 2014.
But his pro career never panned out as expected, in part because of injuries. He peaked at No. 391 in 2012. He did get close to the top 100 in doubles, reaching No. 105 in 2015.
There were two other anti-doping announcements from the ITF in June.
On June 7, the ITF finally announced a decision on the case of Yurii Dzhavakian of Ukraine, a 25-year-old currently ranked No. 1009 in singles with a career high of No. 704 last December.
Dzhavakian’s 21-month suspension, backdated to the day he was tested, will expire July 8, 2019. He tested positive for the stimulant Methylhexanamine, a 70-year-old drug that was sold as a nasal decongestant until 1983, and of late as a energy-boosting supplement.
Dzhavakian explained that between singles and doubles matches at a Futures event in hot and humid Thailand, he went to a gym near his hotel to get an energy drink.
He says he remembered the supplement powder as being “Jack3d”. And though he said he was normally diligent in checking drinks for prohibited substances, he said he was “tired, dehydrated, and disoriented in a foreign country.”
The ITF’s efforts to back up his story are almost humorous, as they were hung up on by various people at the gym, and did not find said supplement as being advertised on the gym’s online website. (Yeah …). They determined the player met the standard for “no significant fault”. But barely.
Brazilian Marcondes under provisional suspension
The other provisional suspension, announced on June 1, was that of 21-year-old Igor Marcondes, a Brazilian.
Marcondes tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, commonly used as blood-pressure medication but also on the prohibited list as a diuretic and masking agent.
His provisional suspension, pending a hearing, took effect May 21, 2018.
Marcondes reached a career high in the juniors of No. 55 in 2015, and had a lot of success on the Central and South American clay-court junior circuit.
He had played the Futures circuit in Portugal, Egypt and Brazil this season, and is currently ranked No. 788 in singles and No. 678 in doubles.