Marin Cilic has denied reports that he feigned an injury at Wimbledon this summer when he withdrew from the tournament. The International Tennis Federation, which last week banned Cilic for nine months after he failed a drugs test, said that the 25-year-old Croat had cited the knee problem "to avoid adverse publicity". However the player insisted that he had indeed been suffering with an injury.
"I had already developed a significant knee injury before Wimbledon and aggravated it during my first-round match," Cilic said in a statement. "The tournament doctors at Wimbledon examined my knee before and after my first-round match.
"The medical documentation that I was given records that my knee was already then in a bad state and that any further matches could risk a more serious injury. I was nonetheless very keen to continue playing at Wimbledon, because the tournament means so much to me."
Cilic had been informed during the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club of his positive drugs test, but chose to carry on competing. In such cases players have the option of accepting a provisional suspension pending a tribunal or of continuing to play. Cilic, who is now appealing against his ban, said that he had accepted the provisional suspension only after being warned that his results at Wimbledon could be wiped out depending on the outcome of his case.
"At that point it no longer made any sense for me to risk causing my knee a more serious injury and to deprive someone else the opportunity of playing deeper into the tournament," Cilic said. "I therefore took the painful decision to pull out of Wimbledon and to accept a voluntary suspension pending the determination of my case. I don't know what else I could have done.
"I subsequently flew to Monte Carlo to receive treatment on my knee. I was unable to put any weight on my knee for several days after my treatment."