Sesil Karatantcheva says she was pregnant.
At 14, she threatened to kick Maria Sharapova’s “butt off” because of a perceived slight at the practice courts. At 15, she was a French Open quarter-finalist (in the event proper, not in the junior version). At 16, after failing a dope test, she was suggesting that the nandrolone in her system had been naturally produced by an aborted pregnancy, but she was banned for two years. After serving her suspension, she was asked by USA Today whether the aborted pregnancy was still her explanation, to which her response was: “Yeah, mostly. I had a tough puberty, really.”
Karol Beck takes his mother’s headache pills (or was it a drink in that club?).
The chemicals in Beck’s urine blasted a two-year hole in his tennis life. The Slovak told a drugs tribunal that he had unknowingly ingested the clenbuterol either when he sipped a drink in a Bratislava nightclub or when he popped what he had thought was one of his mother’s headache pills.
Mariano Hood’s hair-loss treatment.
An independent drugs tribunal accepted the Argentine’s story that he had been taking a treatment to prevent hair loss. However, the drug, finasteride, is on the list of prohibited substances, because it is considered to be a masking agent, and the doubles player was banned for a year.
Martina Hingis: “I never took cocaine”.
At the 2007 Wimbledon Championships, Hingis had 42 nanograms per mililetre of a cocaine metabolite in her system. Had Hingis been in the US military, not a tennis player (so if she had been handling guns rather than rackets), it would not have counted as a positive test. Hingis voluntarily took a hair-follicle test which showed that she had no cocaine in her system in the 90 days after the tournament. “I’ve never taken cocaine, never, no recreational drugs,” she said.
Andre Agassi’s spiked drink.
Crystal meth is an addictive stimulant more commonly associated with the American underclass than former Wimbledon champions. Agassi was advised by his then assistant, Slim, that snorting the powder off his coffee table would “make you feel like Superman, dude”. “There is a moment of regret, followed by vast sadness. Then comes a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head. I’ve never felt so alive, so hopeful – and I’ve never felt such energy. I’m seized by a desperate desire to clean. I go tearing around my house, cleaning it from top to bottom. I dust the furniture. I scour the tub. I make the beds.” When Agassi tested positive, he wrote a letter saying that he had “unwittingly” taken crystal meth after sipping from a drink that had been spiked by his personal assistant. The ATP Tour accepted Agassi’s story and he avoided a ban.
Richard Gasquet’s cocaine kisses.
For months, he felt as though he was starring in his own “disaster movie”, a story about a Wimbledon semi-finalist, a Miami nightclub, a girl called ‘Pamela’, an evening of French kisses and a positive dope test for cocaine. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted his version of events that he had inadvertently ingested the drug when he kissed the girl, identified only as ‘Pamela’, in a restaurant, a bar and a strip club. “I think I had more chance of winning four grand slams in a year than testing positive for cocaine. Those were horrible times,” he recalled.
Wayne Odesnik’s “substantial assistance”.
Not a positive drugs test, as such, but the American was caught by Australian custom officials trying to import vials of banned human growth hormone into the country. The contents of his suitcase led to a two-year ban. But that was cut by a year thanks to what the International Tennis Federation called “substantial assistance provided by Mr Odesnik in relation to the enforcement of professional rules of conduct”.
Mariano Puerta takes his wife’s medication by mistake.
The Argentine was originally banned for eight years after testing positive for etilefrine at the 2005 French Open, where he finished as the runner-up to Rafael Nadal. It was the longest ban in the sport’s history. That punishment was reduced to two years after the Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted his story that he had inadvertently sipped from a glass that had previously been used by his wife, who was taking a treatment containing the drug.
Robert Kendrick takes something to counter jet-leg.
Jet-lag is the enemy for any tennis player. The American took something to help him sleep. While an International Tennis Federation tribunal accepted his explanation that he had tested positive for a banned stimulant because he had been trying to counter jet-lag, rather than trying to enhance his performance, he was still banned, because “it is a player’s strict personal duty to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his body”.
Greg Rusedski’s contaminated supplements.
Rusedski was exonerated after a tribunal accepted that his positive test for nandrolone was caused by contaminated supplements handed out by the ATP. “It was very hurtful to be called a cheat and all sort of things when you know you’ve done nothing wrong,” he said.