WADA can't appeal ATP rulings

MONTREAL -- Seven ATP tennis players who tested positive for
steroids were let off on "unsustainable grounds," a World
Anti-Doping Agency report concluded Friday.

The 21-page report said the players' defense -- the nandrolone
found in their urine samples came from supplements provided by ATP
trainers -- was unfounded.

Mark Young, the ATP's general counsel, disagreed with report's
conclusion, saying the "decisions applied sound legal principles
to the evidence that was presented."

Of the seven players, only Bohdan Ulihrach of the Czech Republic
was identified. Ulihrach was banned for two years on May 1, 2003,
but reinstated two months later. The other six were let off without
suspensions after hearings.

An eighth case, in which Greg Rusedski also was exonerated, was
not covered by the report.

The tests were taken between August 2002 and May 2003. They
found seven positive cases as well as 36 more with elevated levels
of nandrolone.

Young said the ATP was continuing to investigate the cause of
the low-level nandrolone readings in an effort to determine the

The WADA inquiry, requested by the ATP, showed that cases
continued to turn up even after trainers were ordered to stop
distributing the electrolyte replacement supplements.

It said remaining tablets from bottles used during that period
showed no traces of the drug.

"The consequence and the problem arising from the situation is
that there are now seven cases where exonerations were granted on
clearly unsustainable grounds and the exonerations may not be

The ATP has not accepted WADA's anti-doping code and the agency
has no right to appeal the ATP rulings.

A report by Christiane Ayotte, whose Montreal lab tested the
samples, said all the cases showed the same "analytical
fingerprint" and must have come from the same source.

One of the players used that and other reports to show that the
drugs did not come from his own trainer's supplements. The other
six then used the same defense. WADA called it "highly unusual."

The supplements were withdrawn, players were notified to stop
using any they had left over and the trainers were disciplined
internally, the report said.

However, the ATP hearings and investigation were carried out too
quickly and were not thorough enough, the agency concluded. None of
the players testified under oath.

"Further information that has been made available to WADA
during the carrying out of this inquiry reveals that there
continues to be near-positive results with the same fingerprint,"
the report said.

"This only accentuates the fact that it could not be the
electrolyte supplied to the players during the period of August
2002 to May 2003. If that is the case, the exonerations were based
on incorrect factual findings."

The report recommended research begin immediately into the more
recent cases.