The former world No. 5 from Italy, Sara Errani, was banned from tennis for two months after she tested positive for the cancer drug letrozole, a drug that can be used to “increase lean body mass,” the International Tennis Federation said today.
Errani, now ranked 98th, tested positive in an out-of-competition test on February 16. At a hearing in July, Errani, alongside her mother, testified that she did not knowingly ingest the drug, and that accidental contamination from her mother’s medicine, which she used to treat breast cancer, was to blame. According to the document from the disciplinary proceeding, the tribunal concluded that it was “more likely than not” that the drug “entered the Player’s body by means of her mother’s medication, Femara, accidentally contaminating the Player’s food.” It read:
Mrs Errani dispensed her medication containing letrozole on the same worktop on which she prepared her family meals. She described her daily routine and how it might change depending upon whether she was working in the morning or afternoon, the process of dispensing her pills and how they were in proximity to the food and preparation area. The risk of contamination was obvious. It is likely that because of Mrs Errani’s battle with illness, her preoccupation with other matters including matters at home as well as working part-time that her attention and level of care fell below that which it would otherwise have been.
The tribunal also concluded, however, that Errani could have done more to prevent the contamination and suspended her for two months. The maximum punishment would have been two years. Errani also must forfeit the prize money she won in the time after testing positive. Errani’s best performance this year was a semifinal appearance in Morocco in May. Errani released a statement on twitter that read, in part:
“I feel very frustrated but I can only try to stand still and wait for this period to finish.
“I am extremely disappointed but at the same time at peace with my conscience and aware I haven’t done anything wrong, neither have I committed any negligence against the anti-doping program.”
Errani worked with Luis Garcia del Moral, one of the doctors at the heart of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, but she parted ways with him in 2012, just months after she reached the French Open final, but before she reached her career high-ranking of No. 5 in 2013.