Former Top 20 player Varvara Lepchenko was sentenced to a four-year doping ban by the International Tennis Federation on Friday after testing positive for a banned stimulant at a tournament last year.
His attorney, Howard Jacobs, wrote in an email to The Associated Press that Lepchenko intended to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Lepchenko, 35, who represented the United States at the Summer Olympics and what is now known as the Billie Jean King Cup, passed the doping test after a first-round defeat at the Hungarian Grand Prix last July.
She then competed in three more tournaments – including winning the title at an event in Charleston, South Carolina, offering a total prize pool of $115,000 – before being provisionally suspended in August.
An independent tribunal issued its decision on the suspension on Thursday, following a videoconference hearing on February 17. The written decision says Jacobs told the panel that contamination from the supplements “cannot be completely ruled out” as a possible cause of his client’s positive test, but the court determined that Lepchenko failed to prove that his use of the banned substance was unintentional.
According to the ruling, Lepchenko’s response to the International Tennis Federation’s opening brief read, “Ms. Lepchenko understands that she is responsible for whatever she puts into her body and does not dispute that acid.” modafinil was found in his urine sample. The only question for this Tribunal is therefore whether Ms. Lepchenko can establish that she did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, so that the sanction in this case should be two years instead of four years.
The tribune’s four-year sentence was backdated to August 19, 2021, when Lepchenko’s provisional suspension began.
She is eligible to return to competition in August 2025, when she turns 39.
It was Lepchenko’s second doping violation, but the International Tennis Federation said she was penalized as if it were her first as it was determined she was not at fault. in the other case – which involved a positive test in 2016 for meldonium, the heart drug that led to Maria Sharapova’s doping ban.
Lepchenko has earned just over $5 million in career prize money and reached her best WTA ranking of No. 19 in 2012. That was the year she made her debut in the fourth round of a Grand Slam by going so far with the French. Open with a win over 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone.
Lepchenko also qualified for the fourth round of the US Open in 2015.
She is currently ranked 128th; her last match was a second-round loss to two-time Grand Slam finalist Vera Zvonareva in August in Concord, Massachusetts.
Lepchenko was born in the former Soviet nation of Uzbekistan, then moved with her father and sister to Florida. She was granted political asylum, started living in Pennsylvania in 2003 and became a US citizen in 2011.
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