Plight of tennis player nearly banned for a year due to broken intercom shines light on ‘invasive’ doping tests


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 it wasn’t working. The delay nearly cost Cornet a year of her tennis career.

Cornet, 28, was charged by the tennis anti-doping 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 May 1, an independent tribunal on Tuesday dismissed the charges against Cornet, ruling that 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 a huge relief” after the charges were dismissed; they would have carried a one-year ban, if upheld.

“The wait from these last six months was a true nightmare for my family and I, and knowing that I will be able to keep doing what I love fills me with an extraordinary energy,” she said.

The episode shines a light on a burden for tennis players and other elite athletes: having to make themselves available for unannounced out-of-competition testing at a chosen hour, every single day, without advance notice.

“It’s a foundation of a good anti-doping program,” said Stuart Miller, who leads the International Tennis Federation’s anti-doping 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 can be accessible for testing.”

Alize Cornet serves to Elina Svitolina in the first round of the Madrid Open on May 5.

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 …read more

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