Tennis star Sara Errani faces ban after failing anti-doping test

Former world number five Sara Errani has been banned for two months after failing an anti-doping test, the International Tennis Federation has announced.

The 30-year-old Italian, a French Open finalist in 2012, tested positive for cancer treatment drug letrozole, which can increase body mass, in February.

An independent tribunal accepted Errani’s explanation that she must have accidentally ingested drugs being used by her mother to treat breast cancer through contaminated food.

It was deemed a suspension was still necessary as Errani could have done more to prevent this happening, but the maximum punishment of two years for an accidental violation of this type was considered excessive.

Following a hearing last month, a suspension was imposed from August 3 and she will be eligible to compete again on October 3.

All her results from the date of her positive out-of-competition test on February 16 until a negative test on June 7 have been annulled. Consequently all ranking points and prize money accrued in this period have had to be forfeited.

Errani, who is now ranked 98 in the world, said in a statement released on Twitter: "I feel very frustrated, but I can only try to stand still and wait for this period to finish.

"I am extremely disappointed but - at the same time - at peace with my conscience and aware I haven’t done anything wrong, neither have I committed any negligence against the anti-doping program."

Errani, it has now been revealed, was charged with the anti-doping breach in April and immediately accepted the findings.

Errani, whose previous record was unblemished, based her case for mitigation on the fact she had been visiting her parents shortly before her positive test.

Her mother, who has suffered from breast cancer, routinely stored her drugs close to an area used to prepare food. Contamination was possible because there had been times when pills had been dropped or spilled.

There is also no evidence letrozole would enhance the performance of an elite tennis player. It was banned because of World Anti-Doping Agency concerns it was being abused by bodybuilders.

A statement from the ITF read: "An independent tribunal appointed under article 8.1 of the 2017 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme has found that Sara Errani committed an anti-doping rule violation under Article 2.1 of the programme and, as a consequence, has disqualified the affected results and imposed a period of ineligibility of two months, commencing on August 3, 2017."

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