Gasquet Confirms Positive Cocaine Test


AFP

Paris, May 11: France's Richard Gasquet admitted on Sunday that he had tested positive for cocaine, but insisted he would battle to clear his name. 

The world number 23, a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2007 and once regarded as one of the game's brightest talents, tested positive at the Miami Masters in March and could now face a two-year ban from the sport.

"The test of the B sample submitted at the end of March 2009, during the Miami tournament where I did not participate, confirmed the positive result of the A sample taken on the same day," the 22-year-old Gasquet said in a statement.

However, Gasquet revealed that he had submitted himself to an independent test and that a hair analysis "showed no trace of cocaine".

"Taking into account the complexity of this affair, I intend now to prove my innocence and will explain myself at an appropriate time."

Gasquet pulled out of his opening match in Miami against Spain's Albert Montanes because of a shoulder injury.

He withdrew from this week's tournament in Estoril with an elbow injury and is not playing at the Madrid Masters, which got under way on Saturday.

Cocaine has proved the downfall of a number of high-profile sportsmen in recent years including football legend Diego Maradona while, on Saturday, world champion cyclist Tom Boonen was suspended by his team for a second positive test for the drug.

In 2007, former women's tennis world number one Martina Hingis tested positive for cocaine at Wimbledon and although the Swiss player denied she had taken the drug, she was banned for two years.

However, Hingis had already announced her retirement before the suspension was handed down.

Considered one of tennis's brightest talents, and a potential Grand Slam title winner, Gasquet reached a career high of seventh in the world in 2007, just after reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

But he endured a nightmare 2008 where he lost his place as French number one and saw his star eclipsed by the likes of Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils.

He enjoyed a respectable start to 2009 with semi-final places in Brisbane, Sydney and Dubai.

Fellow French player Fabrice Santoro revealed on Sunday that Gasquet was "sad" and "really shocked" by the affair.

"I spoke to him on the telephone," Santoro, who trains alongside Gasquet in the Team Lagardere training set-up, told Europe 1 radio station.

"He is sad, really shocked. He doesn't understand. He told me about his dinner, his evening (on the night before the drug test)..."

"I've known Richard since he was nine years old, so I'm very surprised," Santoro, 36, continued.

"I found out about the case yesterday (Saturday) evening. I know Richard and his way of life very well, so it's a huge surprise because it doesn't add up.

"Or maybe I was wrong (about Gasquet) - which would really surprise me, because I know him very well - or maybe there is a problem somewhere else."

Former world number one Roger Federer, meanwhile, expressed hope that Gasquet would be exonerated.

Gasquet's Davis Cup team-mate Michael Llodra said: "I don't know in which context he could have taken something or if he knew what he was doing. Only he knows.

"When I go out I am very careful. I keep my hand over my glass, because I know that this kind of mistake can happen very quickly." 

  

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