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L'Equipe Strikes Again - This Time It's After Karatantcheva

Every now and then a tennis story comes out that completely floors me - this is one of them.

From ESPN: Karatantcheva denies report of failed drug test

Bulgarian teenager Sesil Karatantcheva failed a doping test following her loss at the French Open, the French sports newspaper L'Equipe reported Tuesday.

Karatantcheva tested positive for nandrolone after her three-set loss to Russia's Elana Likhovtesa in the May 31 quarterfinals, L'Equipe reported, without citing sources. She was 15 at the time; she turned 16 in August.

L'Equipe also reported that Karatantcheva appeared last week before a panel of three judges appointed by the International Tennis Federation. The newspaper said she told the panel she was pregnant at the time of the test, but later suffered a miscarriage.

Karatantcheva told a Bulgarian news agency she was not informed of the test result and denied appearing before the panel.

"I am shocked," Karatantcheva told the agency. "I have not appeared before judges of the international federation."

I'm almost speechless - where to begin?

  1. First of all, L'Equipe is singlehandedly making a mockery of tennis' drug policy.  The time lapse between a positive test and any action seems totally absurd when the entire world is notified of offending players through unofficial channels months before.  They're going to get around to dealing with the Mariano Puerta situation publicly...when?  At this rate I'm expecting him to show up at the Australian Open with the issue still unresolved.
  2. What was in the water at the French Open?  It's just bizarre that all of these positive tests took place in Paris but nothing major occurred at any of the other Grand Slams.
  3. How does a 15-year-old test positive for nandrolone?  Total accident?  Someone on her team gave it to her?  It's not like a 15-year-old would question a supplement a member of her official team told her to take.  She decided on her own to take something to get stronger and neglected to mention it to her team and have them investigate what was in it?  Or perhaps the whole report of a positive test is nonsense.
  4. What's the morality on a newspaper publishing unattributed statements that a 15-year-old was pregnant?!!!   At any time!!!
  5. Whoever was in charge of hiring the lab that did the French Open tests had better fire them for next year.  This many major leaks is either malice or total incompetence.
  6. A twisted look at the bright side of things - if she's suspended for two years she'll only be 18 when she returns.
  7. This may quite possibly be the first pregnancy defense for a positive nandrolone test.  We'll have to wait for the pharmocologists to weigh in the validity of this one.
  8. At 15, tell an international panel of adults you were pregnant?  Or just pray to avoid a 2-year suspension by some other means?

Small Update: Various articles are reporting that a pregnancy test was done on Karatantcheva's French Open sample and came out negative.



There is something wrong when a minor's information is made public. If this was someone being arrested, information would have been kept confidential. If she tested positive, that's one thing. There would have to be an explanation as to why she is off the tour for 2 years. To announce that she was pregnant is an atrocity. If she wants to announce that, it is her business, not a newspaper. What type of journalism are they doing in France. As for Puerta, something should be done. Suspend him. Don't suspend him. Make a decision. I agree that performance enhancing drugs are wrong, but 2 years in a tennis career is way to harsh. A week in baseball is a slap on the wrist. Something like 6 months to a year for a first offense is realistic.

Posted by: Jon Rubinstein | Dec 20, 2005 11:23:18 AM

I agree with both of you. This is heading into absurd territory.

The ITF was supposed to have announced the results of the tribunal in the beginning of December, but in two weeks it will be January and the season will be in full swing again. If Puerta did test positive then say so and end this chicanery now. If he didn't then exonerate him and let him get back to playing tennis.

L'Equipe has gotten some things right but they've also gotten stuff wrong in the past. If Puerta is truly innocent as well as Karatantcheva, I hope they both file suit against the paper. Can you imagine being 15 and having your sex life spread out all across the paper for the world to see?

Whatever the case the ITF needs to end this specualtion now and stop dragging its feet. This is why Dick Pound wanted to take over drug testing in tennis.

Posted by: Ally | Dec 20, 2005 11:32:49 AM

You mean to tell me she was pregnant at 15????? What is happening to the world....

Posted by: Nonymous | Dec 20, 2005 9:25:35 PM

probably there is some truth to their reports since if this wasn't true, then the ITF and the players involved should have sued the newspaper immediately after the news was reported. but it didn't happen and doesn't see it happening soon. i really hope the rumor is not true.

Posted by: Marlon | Dec 21, 2005 2:29:47 AM

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