ITF given 14 days to reveal drug evidence

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JOHN ROBERTS

A High Court judge has given the International Federation 14 days to prove it has evidence that Mats Wilander and Karel Novacek tested positive for cocaine at last year's French Open.

Neither player was present at yesterday's hearing, which followed allegations in a Sunday newspaper. The players took the ITF to court in an attempt to have the federation's drug-testing procedures declared unfair and to prove their innocence. The ITF gave an undertaking to grant the players and their legal representatives 21 days' notice of any further proceedings.

Philip Engelman, who represented Wilander and Novacek in court, told the judge, Sir Donald Rattee, it was the players' right under ITF rules to call for an appeals committee, and this was set up to be heard in London on 23 to 24 January. But, on the day before it was due to begin, the American lawyer for the ITF called off the hearing.

Engelman said lawyers representing the players in the United States had been trying unsuccessfully since November to obtain documents relating to the players' urine tests from the French laboratories so that their expert witness could examine the procedures. The judge gave the ITF 14 days to produce evidence and the players' legal team a further 14 days to reply.

In a statement the ITF said: "In an effort to maintain the integrity of the Anti-Doping Programme and make today's judicial procedures unnecessary, the ITF provided first to the players' representatives, and then to the court, a commitment that no further proceedings under the programme related to these players would be taken until 21 days prior notice is given to the players and their representatives.

"The offer was not accepted by the players' representatives, who wanted to formally restrain the ITF from carrying out its Anti-Doping Programme. The judge regarded the ITF's commitment as being entirely satisfactory and attempts to obtain future relief from the ITF were therefore unsuccessful."

Seles beaten, page 23

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