Errani doping suspension appeal denied

Bad news for the Italian Sara Errani, who will have to serve eight more months’ suspension related to the positive test for letrozole in February, 2017.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport heard two appeals, and the decisions were announced Monday.

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The first was from the Italian anti-doping organization, which appealed the length of her original two-months suspension.

The second was from Errani herself. She appealed the disqualification of all of her results (and prize money, and ranking points) from Feb. 16, 2017 (when she tested positive) through June 7, 2017, when she was next tested, and tested negative.

Two months turns into 10

On April 18, 2017, Errani was charged with a violation of the anti-doping rules – the positive test on Feb. 16 was for letrozole, which is a prohibited substance. Errani asked for a hearing before an independent tribunal.

On July 19, Errani appeared before the tribunal, and told the story of how some of her mother’s cancer medication, left on the kitchen counter, may have dropped into the tortellini broth she was making. And thus, Errani claimed she ingested it accidentally.

The tribunal gave Errani a fairly light sentence – two months, from Aug. 3 to Oct. 2, 2017, and ruled on the above-mentioned loss of ranking points and prize money. It determined she “bore no significant fault or negligence for the violation.”

The appeals to the Court of Arbitration for sport were heard all the way back on Nov. 9, 2017, according to the press release from the International Tennis Federation on Monday.

But the decisions were only announced seven months later.

Long delay before verdict

Errani, as you can understand, is rather upset by all the delays and issued a statement Monday.

The Italian federation had been asking for a two-year suspension. The hearing reportedly lasted nine hours.

In the meantime, Errani continued to play.  Ranked No. 280 when she returned to action last September, she raised her ranking all the way to No. 72 this week.

The CAS panel found that Errani “had demonstrated (but only just) the source of the letrozole found in her sample and that her fault lay in the upper end of the ‘light’ range.”

And, as a result, it granted the Italian federation its appeal. The suspension was increased from the two months she had already served to … 10 months.

It also dismissed Errani’s appeal on the loss of points and prize money for the four-month period last year.

Eight more months on the shelf

And so, Errani still must serve another eight months on her suspension. She now can’t return until February 8, 2019. And that has to be more than discouraging.

She played almost constantly upon her return last September, to get her ranking back.

During that same eight-month period last year, she earned 560 ranking points so while she may still be in the top 200 when she returns, it will be only just.

And as soon as she returns from that eight-month absence, she will have another 492 points to defend in the first two weeks.

Errani qualified and reached the second round at the Premier event in Dubai the week of Feb. 19. And then she went to Indian Wells, qualified and won the WTA $125K tournament the week before the main event.

If she can’t come out of the gates strongly, she will barely have a ranking at all and will have to start again, at an even lower level of tournament.

It’s a tough break.

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