Tennis: Korda failed Wimbledon drug test

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The Independent Online
WIMBLEDON WAS hit by its first drugs scandal yesterday when Petr Korda, of the Czech Republic, was stripped of his prize money and world rankings points from last summer's championships, where he lost to Britain's Tim Henman in the quarter-finals.

Korda, the 30-year-old Australian Open champion, was ordered to return $94,529 (pounds 59,080) prize money to the International Tennis Federation and was deducted 199 ranking points after testing positive for an anabolic steroid. Korda's urine sample was found to contain nandrolone, which is categorised as a class one prohibited substance under the tennis anti- doping programme.

Tennis has always prided itself on being one of the cleanest sports, and this is the first case of a high-profile player failing a test for a performance-enhancing drug. Tests are conducted at all major tournaments. The only other case involving leading players saw a lengthy legal dispute in the High Court after Mats Wilander and Karel Novacek were reported to have tested positive for cocaine at the French Open a few years ago.

The test on Korda, conducted in July, was subjected to the drugs programme's lengthy procedure, culminating in an independent appeals committee hearing in London. The committee found that "exceptional circumstances" existed in that Korda "did not know that he had taken (or been administered) the relevant substance and he acted reasonably in all the relevant circumstances". This meant that no other sanction would be imposed on Korda.

Korda, one of the most gifted players of his generation, ended the year ranked No 13. Despite the deduction in his ranking points, he is unlikely to drop out of the world's top 20.

The tall left-hander from Prague, who is married with two children, has won more than $10m in prize money since turning professional in 1987.