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Tennis | Wimbledon

Cilic faked injury to disguise doping ban – ITF



Croatia's Marin Cilic pulled out of this year's Wimbledon Championships with a knee injury in order to avoid the "adverse publicity" from a failed drugs test, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced on Tuesday.

Cilic was banned for nine months last week for testing positive for a banned supplement and on Tuesday saw the ITF's independent anti-doping tribunal publish the full findings of his case.

The No 10 seed at Wimbledon, having lost in the final of the Queen's grasscourt warm-up tournament in London to Britain's Andy Murray, pulled out of his Grand Slam match against France's Kenny de Schepper on June 26 having accepted a provisional suspension for a positive test.

However, he cited a knee injury as the reason and with seven players in all withdrawing there was speculation the hardness of Wimbledon's courts was behind the unusual number of injury-enforced pull-outs.

The tribunal's findings stated: "He (Cilic) played and won his first round match at Wimbledon on 24 June. He has not played in a competitive match since.

"On 26 June his lawyers in Brussels responded on his behalf, voluntarily accepting a provisional suspension until a decision in the case, and waiving his right to analysis of the B sample. He withdrew from Wimbledon, citing a knee injury to avoid adverse publicity."

The 24-year-old tested positive for banned supplement nikethamide after taking Coramine glucose tablets purchased at a pharmacy in Monte Carlo.

The tribunal was told the accompanying information leaflet warned athletes that taking the tablets they could lead to a positive test, but Cilic said he could not understand French.

However, the tribunal found Cilic could have checked before taking the tablets, although they accepted he had inadvertently ingested the nikethamide and "did not intend to enhance his performance in doing so".

The findings state: "The product had the word 'Coramine' in upper case letters on the front. The player was familiar with websites such as Google and Wikipedia. It would have taken only minutes to search under 'Coramine' on those sites, and discover the danger he was in."

Cilic also said he was under stress due to problems between his coach Bob Brett and his parents.

But the tribunal said: "We do not, however, think that the stress the player was suffering is a factor of great weight. Conditions in the highest echelons of professional sport are inherently stressful."

While the tribunal said the offence was "not at the most serious end of the scale" it still deserved a nine-month ban.

Cilic has said he will appeal against the decision to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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