Alizé Cornet cleared of anti-doping sanctions

When Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet was first brought on the carpet for three missed doping-control tests she insisted that at the original hearing, they didn’t want to listen to what she had to say.

Well, the Independant tribunal apparently listened.

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Because at her May 1 hearing in London the tribunal found, by majority decision, that the doping-control officer did not do “what was reasonable in the circumstances (i.e. given the nature of the specified location) to try to locate the [player], short of giving [her] any advance notice of the test.”

That applied to the third missed test. And it takes three to trigger a suspension.

So the violation has been dismissed. And Cornet no longer has the threat of a suspension hanging over her head as the French Open approaches.

Provided, of course, that she doesn’t miss more tests.

Cornet was charged on Jan. 11 with failing the “whereabouts” criteria – i.e., she wasn’t available for an unannounced test during the 60-minute time slots she declared on her forms three separate times, during a 12-month period. 

They offered her the option of taking a voluntary suspension. But she opted to keep playing, even with that hanging over her head, because she intended to contest it.

Missed Test No. 1

Corner testified she was asked to take an earlier flight, to get to the Fed Cup site earlier. But she didn’t properly update her “whereabouts” filing.

Missed Test No. 2

Cornet was supposed to be at her mother’s house. But again, she had left before the 60-minute window to catch a flight, worried about the traffic. Apparently they missed her by 15 minutes. Mom cried.

“Missed” Test No. 3

On Oct. 12, Cornet realized the buzzer to her apartment was broken. She went to Moscow for the tournament there, was home a few days, then left again – assuming it was fixed by her father, who is her de-facto handyman.

She found out when her dad showed up with tools on Oct. 26 that the intercom had not, in fact, been fixed. And then she found out she’d missed the doping-control officer two days prior.

She was sitting at home, eating breakfast with her flatmate. But the officer couldn’t get access to the apartment via the doorbell (and didn’t ask any of the three people she saw coming in and out during that time to let her in).

Cornet said that her fellow tenants were pretty slack about letting anyone into the building, and they probably would have, if the officer had asked. In fact, Cornet said, they’d done it for her before.

Cornet’s flatmate (who had seen the doping control officer before and knew who she was) actually left the building to go to work during that 60-minute window. So did Cornet’s next-door neighbour.

“Frank and compelling evidence”

The tribunal agreed that the officer failed to “take reasonable steps” in all circumstances, although they recognized she acted in good faith. They felt it was a borderline case, and the officer didn’t follow paragraph 12.1 that says it “may be appropriate for the (officer) to speak to people he/she encounters during the attempts to see if they can assist in locating the athlete.”

They weren’t too impressed with the officer’s claim that the people who walked out of the apartment complex during that 60-minute period “looked busy”.

And the officer confirmed that she had not heard the buzzer, when she pressed it. 

Conclusion

Cornet can now immediately return to action.

The hearing was held in London on Tuesday, May 1, and Cornet was present for that.

She lost in the first round in Madrid the following week, and pulled out of this week’s tournament in Rome.

But it’s all clear now – and she has two “no-shows” to play with during this 12-month period.

She’s entered in Strasbourg next week. Then comes the French Open.

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