Former Davis Cup captain David Lloyd insisted Greg Rusedski had been “living in hell” until he was today exonerated of doping charges by an independent tribunal.
The British number two tested positive for nandrolone but argued successfully that the trace of the banned substance had entered his system in supplements given to him by the ATP.
He is now free to get on with his career, and Lloyd said: “It’s terrific news for Greg and terrific news for British tennis.
“He has been living in hell but now he has cleared his name. I have been in touch with Greg for the last nine months and I’m just so pleased for him and his family.”
Rusedski is 30 and Lloyd believes a two-year ban if found guilty would undoubtedly have finished his playing career and damaged his reputation.
“It’s not quite the same as being on death row because that’s a slightly more important thing, but it was his whole career, his whole future, his whole reputation [on the line]. He had been living with a time bomb,” added Lloyd.
Asked whether Rusedski might consider further action following his exoneration, Lloyd said: “That’s up to him to decide what to do but he’ll certainly start playing tennis again.
“This could be the greatest thing for him now. He can go out and win Wimbledon,” Lloyd told BBC News 24.
“He probably thought he might be banned for life and this is a reprieve, something which will actually be positive for him rather than negative.”
Former tennis player and now television pundit Chris Bailey believes the ATP must offer more guidance to players – who are now too scared of testing positive for banned substances that they are avoiding supplements altogether.
“I’m stunned about this like everybody else. Initially everybody thought it was an open and shut case, but now to be cleared it vindicates Greg’s stance in coming out and going on the offensive,” added Bailey, on BBC News 24.
“It’s getting to the stage now where players are not taking anything, they’re sticking to water and awaiting direction from the ATP.
“There are studies that have shown that certain supplements when combined with other factors can produce high levels of nandrolone and it’s also been found that around 15 to 20 of the supplements on the market that don’t have on the labels what’s in them have got an anabolic steroid in them.
“It’s been a very difficult period for Greg and you’ve got to feel sorry for him that he’s had to go through this. It’s taken so long – everyone thought it would take 10-15 days but it’s taken a month. Heaven knows what Greg’s been going through.”
The Lawn Tennis Association performance director David Felgate told BBC Radio Five Live: “I’m delighted for Greg. Due process took place and he can now get on with his career.
“I have always maintained that Greg never knowingly took a banned substance. Now he is free to carry on and get back out there.”