ATP slams disgraced Odesnik

Reuters - Fri, 26 Mar 21:11:00 2010

The World Anti-Doping Agency praised Australian authorities after American tennis player Wayne Odesnik pleaded guilty in an Australian court on Friday to importing human growth hormone.

TENNIS Odesnik - 0

Odesnik faces a two-year ban from tennis after eight vials, each containing six milligrams of the performance-enhancing substance, were found in his luggage by Australian Customs officers ahead of a tournament leading up to the Australian Open.

The 24-year-old player was fined 4,900 and ordered to pay costs, according to WADA.

"The substance itself has now been found in a number of athletes ... when authorities have the power to search and to seize," WADA Director General David Howman said.

"It's a sign of what is to come in the fight against doping in sport. We are going to rely more and more on enforcement agencies."

The ATP Tour condemned the world number 98 Odesnik, who reached a career-high ranking of 77 last April.

"We are extremely disappointed in the behaviour of this individual, which is in no way representative of the sport of tennis," the ATP said in a statement.

The ITF is a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Authority's code under which a two-year ban can be imposed for possession of prohibited substances.

"We know the court hearing is over and we now await a report to be sent to our tennis anti-doping programme," an ITF spokeswoman said.

WADA chief Howman said his agency would monitor the case.

"The evidence really does speak for itself, but the process must still be followed. He may want to argue the length of the sanction and so on," he said.

According to Howman, HGH has been very difficult to detect because it can only be found through a blood test developed recently.

"Anecdotally, it has been the drug of choice by many, many athletes over a number of years because they realised it was not detectable. Therefore, they've used it with impunity.

"But the tide is changing."

Reuters

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