TENNIS: Judge to make Korda ruling

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PETR KORDA will find out today whether he has successfully prevented the International Tennis Federation from attempting to have him suspended following a positive drugs test at Wimbledon last year.

Mr Justice Lightman, presiding at London's High Court, indicated he would reserve his judgment overnight and give his decision this afternoon.

The Czech player believes his lawyers can prove the ITF does not have the right to challenge a decision by its own appeals board. But the ITF is arguing the board misapplied anti-doping regulations in docking Korda only the points and prize-money earned at Wimbledon when they punished him in December after testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone. It wants to appeal to the independent Court of Arbitration for Sport.

However, Charles Flint, the barrister representing Korda, told the hearing that the appeal board's decision had been "final and binding." The ITF claims a decision can only be regarded as final if it is not appealed but Flint said that argument was inconsistent with the code.

"The programme is designed to provide for speedy and final determination of disputes as to allegations of doping before an independent committee," he said. "We say that a player should not be required to defend himself twice."

The ITF is unhappy with what they see as a lenient punishment. Robert Reid, the barrister for the ITF, said: "Tennis players are responsible for any substance found in their bodies. The appeals committee should have imposed a suspension."

Reid added that the player himself would have appealed to CAS if the original decision had not been to his liking. "Korda had embarked upon the appeal procedure and, indeed, his solicitors were envisaging that in the advent of an adverse decision he would have appealed to the CAS."

Korda's case is a rarity in tennis which has had just a handful of positive drug tests. None has involved a leading player and most were recreational rather than performance-enhancing substances.