Wickmayer ineligible to resume career, ITF says

BY foxsports • December 15, 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 both players are still banned by the sport's governing body.

Both remain suspended "until such point that we receive any further communication to suggest otherwise," 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 is waiting to hear from the Belgian national anti-doping agency before it can make a formal ruling of their eligibility.

"Basically, it's up to (them) to liaise with the Belgian court and make its decision based on that and inform us," Imison said. "As of last night, we hadn't received any official correspondence at all."

The Belgium anti-doping agency did 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.

The next step would be to be able to use those wildcards and compete.

"At this precise moment, she is ineligible to play," Imison said, adding it was difficult to say when an official decision would be made.

"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. "At this stage, all we can say is that we await to receive the kind of relevant documentation and ruling from Belgium."

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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