Tennis star Rusedski fails drugs test

Greg Rusedski the British No 2 tennis player, confirmed last night that he had tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone.

Rusedski, 30, is to attend a hearing ordered by the Association of Tennis Professionals in Montreal on 9 February.

He issued a statement last night after several days of rumours. It read: "In response to media inquiries I confirm that I have been advised by the ATP anti-doping administrator that a sample I produced tested positive for a low concentration of nandrolone metabolites.

"I wish to make it clear that I do not, and never have, taken performance-enhancing drugs. This is a very complex situation which, once understood, will clearly demonstrate my total innocence. There is a hearing to be held in Montreal on 9 February, which I shall attend. I fully expect to be found innocent.''

Rusedski is one of the highest profile tennis players to have tested positive for nandrolone. If the case against him is proved, his name will be added to a growing list of athletes who have been found guilty of taking stimulants.

Rusedski, whose mother was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was born and raised in Montreal, Canada, and moved to London in 1995. In 1997, he was a finalist at the United States Open in New York, an achievement which elevated his ranking to No 4 in the world.

In 1998, Rusedski won the prestigious Paris Masters tournament, defeating Pete Sampras, the Wimbledon champion and World No 1.

In recent years, however, Rusedski's career has been handicapped by injuries to his feet, knee and back. He ended 2003 ranked No 118, his lowest position since 1994. This slump in fortunes was not surprising considering Rusedski missed more than half of the season because of injuries. He is currently preparing for the Australian Open, to be held in Melbourne, which starts a week next Monday.

Yesterday in Adelaide, Rusedski lost the second match of his comeback to an unseeded Frenchman, Cyril Saulnier. He is scheduled to play in Sydney next week to complete his preparations before going to Melborne.

Before he arrived in Adelaide, Rusedski had not played competitive tennis since losing both of his singles matches in Britain's Davis Cup relegation play-off against Morocco in Casablanca last September.

In the fifth and final match, Rusedski had an opportunity to win the tie, but he was overcome by exhaustion while playing against the Moroccan No 2, Hicham Arazi.

Petr Korda of the Czech Republic tested positive for nandrolone at Wimbledon in 1998, a result which ended his career. Korda, a former Australian Open Champion, protested his innocence all the way to the High Court in London without success, before retiring from the ATP tour.

Some Latin American players have also been found guilty of using banned substances. Guillermo Coria was suspended for seven months at the end of 2001 after being tested positive for nandrolone.

Coria is currently suing a vitamin supplement company, claiming he was sold a contaminated product.

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