Korda escapes ban over drug test


Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda escaped a ban after failing a drugs test at the 1998 Wimbledon Championships, the International Tennis Federation said yesterday. The 30-year-old Czech, who tested positive to nandrolene metabolites, will have to hand back the $94,529 prize money he earned at Wimbledon.

But he escaped a ban as the ITF's Independent Appeals Committee accepted Korda's argument that he was unaware he had taken or been administered the drug.

Korda submitted the positive doping sample after bowing out in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

"I wish to state categorically that I am not a drugs cheat and would never seek to obtain a competitive advantage over my fellow professionals by such means," Korda said in the statement.

"I am delighted that the committee has vindicated me," he said.

"This allegation came as a tremendous shock and caused considerable distress to me and my family.

"From a professional standpoint my performances since August suffered, as my recent results have shown."

Korda said he and his advisers had made exhaustive, but unsuccessful, attempts to find the source of the illegal substance.

"I am delighted that the committee has cleared my name and that I am free to carry on playing and competing," he said.

"I would like to say that I completely support the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme and the efforts of the sport's authorities to ensure that the sport is clean."

Under ITF rules, Korda was found to have committed a doping offence, even though the federation was satisfied he had not taken the banned substance intentionally.

Therefore, it was compelled to deduct the rankings points earned by Korda at Wimbledon and ask him to return his prize money.