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France's Gasquet cleared for return as drug ban expires

©

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-15

The International Tennis Federation has handed Richard Gasquet a two-and-a-half month suspension which effectively expires today, meaning the 23-year-old Frenchman, who tested positive for cocaine in March, is free to play again.

REUTERS - France's Richard Gasquet has been cleared to return to the tour after testing positive for cocaine, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said on Wednesday.

The world number 32 was provisionally suspended in May after a sample he had provided in March in Miami tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine.

"It's a happy end of a painful ordeal. I'm delighted to be able to start competing again. Now, it's back to tennis," the 22-year-old told French radio station Europe 1.

The ITF said Gasquet's 'inadvertent contamination' in a nightclub the night before his scheduled match meant a 12-month suspension would be disproportionate and instead handed him a ban of two months and 15 days which expired on Wednesday.

Gasquet had always claimed his innocence and said he had a hair sample tested by an independent lab "which showed no trace of cocaine".

"I have never taken any cocaine in my life, I can swear it," he was quoted as telling the French media before the ITF disciplinary commission hearing.

"I saw a person who was at that party and this person told me he/she was offered cocaine that night, that there was a lot of cocaine. I did not see it. Had I seen it, I would have left that night club."
 

Date created : 2009-07-15

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