Fri, Dec 23, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Puerta may appeal career-ending ban

DPA , LONDON

Argentine Mariano Puerta said he is considering appealing an eight-year ban from professional tennis, which will effectively end his career, after a second positive test for a banned substance.

The 27-year-old French Open finalist was slammed with the sanction on Wednesday by the International Tennis Federation. Puerta, ranked 13th in the world, has denied guilt ever since the French sports daily l'Equipe broke news of the positive test in October.

He was banned for testing positive for the banned stimulant etilefrine, having previously served a nine-month ban after he failed a test for the steroid-like clenbuterol in February 2003.

Puerta originally said the second offence was due to a chemical used in a hair-restoration product.

"The tribunal accepts that the substance, etilefrine, entered my system entirely inadvertently and without my knowledge as a result of accidental contamination by an over-the-counter medicine which my wife was taking. Accordingly, it ruled that I bore `no significant fault or negligence' for the substance having entered my system," Puerta said.

"Despite these facts, the tribunal found that it had no alternative but to apply strictly the rules which mandated an eight-year ban," he said.

He said no decision on an appeal will be taken before January.

"I will, of course, be considering an appeal with my lawyers," he said.

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