Break Point; Sara Errani to serve

Jun 18 4 min read

1:09 pm

Sara Errani: Serving on Flickr by Roman Boed under CC2.0

"I'm not interested in keeping working with a person that is involved in these things", said Sara Errani after she stopped working with Luis Garcia del Moral, who was one of the doctors associated with the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

Errani has been a former World No. 4 in the singles category and is considered a clay-court specialist. Along with Roberta Vinci, Francesca Schiavone and Flavia Pennetta, Errani was responsible for taking tennis to the next level in Italy. However, the 2012 Roland Garros finalist has had some major setbacks over the past year.

In 2017, Errani and her family were enjoying a delicious meal of tortellini and broth. A few days later, in an out-of-the-competition doping test, Errani tested positive for the drug, Letrozole. Errani's mother had been taking the drug as a part of her breast cancer treatment. Allegedly, the drug had been accidentally mixed into the broth as it was kept on top of the kitchen counter, which ultimately led to the entire family consuming it. In April 2017, Errani was notified of her failed test but the Italian continued to compete on the circuit, being optimistic that the appeal would lean in her favour.

In July 2017, Errani's parents said in a tribunal hearing that after learning of her daughter's failed doping test, they carried out an experiment by mixing Letrozole in broth. The couple found out that the drug was undetectable in the meal. The following month, the Center of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), a Swiss tribunal gave out its verdict by ruling against Errani and suspending her from the tour for a period of two months. Moreover, her results from February 16 to June 7 were nullified. Some of her notable results in this time frame include reaching the semi-finals at Rabat and quarter-finals at Bol and Bogota.

Errani served out the ban, which ended on 2nd October 2017. Ever since, the Italian Anti-doping Agency had been making appeals to the CAS to extend Errani's ban to as long as two years. Errani, on the other hand, was making appeals to the CAS to reinstate her nullified results.

On June 11, 2018, the CAS gave yet another verdict against the five-time Grand Slam doubles champion. The court said that it accepted Errani's explanation of the way the Letrozole found its way into her body. But, the court said Errani was still guilty of a "light degree of fault" and hence her suspension was extended eight months further. The verdict also forced her to retire from the Bol Open held at Croatia wherein she was supposed to play her semi-final match.

The three-time Fed cup winner stated the following on Twitter following the verdict:

"I am really disgusted by this matter. I don’t think anything similar has never happened or managed — in my humble opinion - in such a shameful manner. I have waited for the final sentence for seven extremely long months. A deadline was set eight times, and then postponed. Eight times! I didn’t have the chance to live and play with the serenity that tennis requires. I found this eight months increase of shame. I never assumed any performance-enhancing substance in all my life, I love tennis too much to do something like that. I always tried to be a good example, either on and off the court. I have always played for the National Team giving my best, and trying to honor it every single moment, even when walking away would have been the most logical and simple decision for me. I have dedicated my life to this sport and I don’t think I deserve all this. I feel powerless against such an injustice. The TAS in Lausanne has reconfirmed, once again, it has been an inadvertent ingestion and, moreover, of a substance that is not enhancing performance. I have already served seven months, between results disqualification and period of inactivity. l have been forced to re-start with a ranking position of 280, and I climbed back. And NOW they add an extra sanction of eight months. All of this is a total nonsense! I find, in all this matter, a very unfair treatment and I want to shout it, holding my head up high, because I am sure I have nothing to reproach myself. I don't know if I will be able to find the strength and the desire to play tennis again, after all of this"

It was reported by the BBC that,

" An independent tribunal, appointed by the ITF, said there was no evidence it would enhance the performance of an elite tennis player."

Errani along with compatriot Roberta Vinci became one of the five pairs to complete a career grand slam in doubles. The Italian has won nine WTA titles in singles and 27 WTA titles in doubles. Currently ranked 72, she has been ordered to pay 4000 Swiss Francs to the Italian Anti-doping Agency.