Gasquet free to play after ITF cuts ban

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The Independent Online

Richard Gasquet has been cleared to return to the tour after being banned following a positive cocaine test, the International Tennis Federation said yesterday.

The world No 32 was provisionally suspended in May after a sample he had provided in March in Miami tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine. The ITF said Gasquet's "inadvertent contamination" in a nightclub the night before his scheduled match meant a 12-month suspension would be disproportionate and instead gave the 22-year-old Frenchman a ban of two months and 15 days, which expired yesterday.

Gasquet claimed his innocence and said he had a hair sample tested by an independent laboratory that showed no trace of cocaine. "I have never taken any cocaine in my life," he told reporters before the ITF hearing.