Tennis: Rusedski protests innocence

GREG RUSEDSKI last night claimed he was being “singled out” by the ATP after testing positive for nandrolone.

Rusedski revealed on Thursday night he had returned a positive test in Indianapolis in July last year for “a low concentration of nandrolone metabolites.”

However, the British number two immediately protested his innocence and is now calling on the ATP to drop the case.

In a statement issued on behalf of Rusedski by his lawyers Denton Wilde Sapte, the 1997 US Open finalist claims his is one of more than 40 samples from the top 120 players on the tour to have demonstrated elevated levels of nandrolone.

The 30-year-old also says analysis of the sample indicated the presence of the “same common analytical fingerprint” as detected in other samples provided by players on the tour.

This first came to light in the case of the Czech player Bohdan Ulihrach who provided a sample on October 26, 2002 which was found to contain a low concentration of nandrolone metabolites and was initially suspended by the ATP for two years.

However, it was then discovered that the sample contained the common analytical fingerprint and the reconvened panel, chaired by Professor Richard McLaren, heard evidence from the ATP which indicated ATP trainers had been giving players mineral supplements, electrolytes and other supplements.

Professor McLaren concluded there was a single source for these positives, which was likely to be substances supplied by ATP trainers. As Ulihrach had tested positive because of materials given to him by the ATP themselves, the case was dismissed.

In response, an ATP commission under Richard Young looked into the matter and although they could not explain the phenomenon, concluded that it would be wrong to proceed with any of the other six positive tests or continue investigations into the other 36 elevated levels.

In the statement Rusedski continued: “When I was informed that my sample had tested positive I was stunned. Despite the fact that I was very ill, I was competing for Great Britain in the Davis Cup.

“I knew I had not taken anything that could test positive. Indeed, I have diligently kept a record of every vitamin and supplement that I have ever consumed throughout my career.

“At great personal cost, I arranged for all of the mineral supplements and electrolytes that I used to be analysed to see if they could be the cause. They were all clean. Once the samples had been analysed, my expert, Professor Vivian James, noted my sample too demonstrated the common analytical fingerprint.

“If it was unfair and unreasonable to proceed to prosecution or investigation of the previous 43 cases, equally I consider it will be wrong and unfair to proceed with mine.

“However, the ATP, for reasons I simply do not understand, have not taken this view. Instead of treating me in the same category as all of the other players who have demonstrated elevated levels of nandrolone and the common analytical fingerprint, I appear to have been singled out for this treatment.

“This is wrong, unfair and discriminatory. Instead of prosecuting me, the ATP should be trying to investigate this matter. No other innocent players should suffer as I have done.”

Rusedski said: “In conclusion, I wish to emphasise that I will fight this case to the bitter end. I would invite the ATP to recommence the investigation begun by Mr Young to the source of this problem.

“I would invite the ATP to be open about which other players demonstrated elevated nandrolone levels apart from myself. Most of all, I would invite the ATP to drop this case as it is clear that the source of this problem is tennis rather than anything I did or took.

“I am looking to the tribunal on February 9 (in Montreal) to give me the justice I seek and fully trust that they will.”

Meanwhile, Tim Henman failed a tough examination of his skills in Doha yesterday. Henman paid the penalty for losing two tie breaks in a rain-interrupted semi-final against Ivan Ljubicic in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, losing 7-6 (7/2) 3-6 7-6 (7/5).

The shaven-headed Croat caused Henman a number of problems with his big serve but it was his collapse in the second of two tie-breaks which cost the British number one.

Ljubicic now faces a final match against Nicolas Escude. The Frenchman beat Argentina’s Agustin Calleri 6-2 6-3 in the other semi-final.

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