A Broken Intercom, a Missed Drug Test and also also also a Tennis Player in Limbo
Alizé Cornet’s father brought a repairman to fix the intercom for his daughter’s apartment in Cannes, France, in October, a couple of weeks after she realized which wasn’t working. The delay nearly cost Cornet a year of her tennis career.
Cornet, 28, was charged by the tennis antidoping program in January after missing three out-of-competition tests, the third of which she missed while in her apartment eating breakfast, oblivious to the doping control officer pushing the malfunctioning intercom button below.
After a hearing on May 1, an independent tribunal on Tuesday dismissed the charges against Cornet, ruling which the officer did not sufficiently take “reasonable” measures to contact Cornet while outside her building.
In a statement, Cornet, currently ranked No. 32, said she felt “a great joy and also also also a huge relief” after the charges were dismissed; they could have carried a one-year ban, if upheld.
“The wait via these last six months was a true nightmare for my family and also also also I, and also also also knowing which I will be able to keep doing what I love fills me with an extraordinary energy,” she said.
The episode shines light on a burden for tennis players and also also also additional elite athletes: having to make themselves available for unannounced out-of-competition testing at a chosen hour, every single day, without advance notice.
“which’s a foundation of a not bad antidoping program,” said Stuart Miller, who leads the International Tennis Federation’s antidoping program. “You can’t have an effective out-of-competition testing program without asking players to provide you information as to where they can be found and also also also can be accessible for testing.”
Amid a lifestyle of constant travel, when plans can change based on the results of each match, players must remember to diligently update their whereabouts for each night in a timely manner, which they can do on a website, on an app or by email. Players are allowed only two mistakes — either an unsuccessful attempted test by a doping control officer or failing to submit a location — in a 12-month period, before the third strike triggers a suspension.
Roughly the top 100 men and also also also women in singles and also also also a smattering of doubles and also also also wheelchair players make up the testing pool of 250 professional tennis players. For the most part, they have learned to stay on top of the rigorous regimen.
“which’s challenging,” Johanna Konta said. “which’s the one thing which I will probably miss the least when I retire. yet which’s also a necessary part of the game, and also also also I understand why which’s in place. yet which’s definitely an invasive thing.”
Cornet was the first tour-level player to be charged by the I.T.F. with three missed tests since the rule was introduced in 2009.
The first two tests which Cornet missed from the 12-month window were for similar reasons: She was flying on both days. In one instance, she left early to avoid traffic on the way to the airport.
Howard Jacobs, one of the lawyers representing Cornet from the case, said they had initially considered also contesting the second missed test, yet decided to focus only on the third. In which case, the doping control officer, Lina Rossetti, said she pushed the doorbell four times, once every 15 minutes within the hour. With three minutes left from the allotted hour, Rossetti called Cornet’s phone, yet the call went straight to voice mail.
Cornet said she did not see her phone ring, and also also also saw only a missed call via an unknown number, with no voice mail message left.
Jacobs said Rossetti had waited until the hour was almost up to attempt reaching Cornet by phone because “you don’t want to give advance notice to the player.”
“The rules are set up with This particular paranoia which if you give athletes any advance notice, which they’re doping all the time and also also also they’re going to do something to avoid testing positive,” he added.
The tribunal ruled which Rossetti fell short of creating a “reasonable attempt” to reach Cornet by not asking any of the several people who exited the building while she was waiting outside to let her into the building. One of the people was Cornet’s roommate.
“For Ms. Rossetti to say she did not contact neighbors because of concerns as to advance notice can be in our view inconsistent with the protocol,” the tribunal’s majority ruled. “Nor do we regard her concerns as to delicacy, privacy or the neighbors being busy as answers.”
The tribunal said a doping control officer also “must surely reasonably contemplate the possibility which the buzzer might not be working.”
The decision was not unanimous among the three arbitrators on the panel; the decision called which “a case close to the borderline.”
Konta said she missed a test for initially in her career when traveling to California via her home in England in March. She updated her information on Saturday night in California, yet with the eight-hour time difference, which was already Sunday morning back home.
“which’s definitely something which I think puts a lot of stress on you as a player,” Konta said. “Me, which made me second-guess if I was doing which wrong, so which took a little bit of time to trust myself again. I tell everyone around me to remind me as well. which’s very easy to forget when you get caught up in a day or finish a late match.”
Caroline Garcia said she sets reminders on her phone for each evening and also also also each morning to make sure she stays on top of the whereabouts requirements.
Julia Goerges sets an alarm each night for several minutes before her chosen testing window begins the next day.
“If you learn to live with which, I think which’s something which you can put which from the back of your head and also also also say, ‘Hey, there’s something I need to worry about,’ ” Goerges said. “which doesn’t bother me. which’s a question of organization, I think.”
“which should be a clean sport — we all want This particular,” she added. “If This particular helps for which, I’m pretty happy to do which. If everybody does which the right way, we don’t need to complain about things.”