ITF: Wickmayer still ineligible to play tennis

BY foxsports • December 17, 2009

Yanina Wickmayer is still not eligible to compete despite a court injunction in Belgium that suspended her one-year ban for violating anti-doping rules.

Wickmayer, a U.S. Open semifinalist, and Xavier Malisse had their doping bans suspended Monday, but International Tennis Federation spokesman Nick Imison said Tuesday that neither had been officially cleared to compete.

``Both players are currently banned under the rules of the program,'' Imison said.

Wickmayer and Malisse, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2002, were suspended by a Belgian court Nov. 5 for breaking World Anti-Doping Agency rules by failing to report their whereabouts for drug testing three times. The ITF imposed the bans worldwide.

Imison said the ITF was ``seeking counsel from our legal advisers and WADA'' after hearing from the Belgian national anti-doping agency.

``Basically, it's up to (the Belgian agency) to liaise with the Belgian court and make its decision based on that and inform us,'' Imison said.

The Belgium anti-doping agency did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

After Monday's ruling in Brussels, Wickmayer was offered a wildcard to play at the ASB Classic, a tournament in New Zealand that serves as a warmup for the Australian Open. She is also hoping the ruling will get her another wildcard for the season's first Grand Slam tournament.

``From our point of view, procedures are clear, and that if a decision is made by a national anti-doping authority, then these are sent though to us and then the ITF needs to make sure proper procedure has been followed,'' Imison said.

The 20-year-old Wickmayer claims she was not properly informed of the online reporting requirements for drug-testing that led to her ban.

Wickmayer and Malisse have already asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the bans. A ruling is expected in the next three months.

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