Dope callus cream? The strange story of the disqualification of an American tennis player
21-year-old American tennis player Ashley Kratzer was disqualified by a special ITF tribunal for 4 years for violation of anti-doping rules. According to the tennis player, the prohibited agent could have entered her body only because she used “a Chinese ointment of unknown origin.” Understanding this strange story.
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In an official statement released by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), it is said that during the 125K tournament in Newport Beach (California, USA), held in January 2020, Ashley Kratzer was tested for doping. After some time, the tennis player was informed that the forbidden peptide GHRP-6 was found in her urine, which has a positive effect on strength and weight loss. The athlete was immediately suspended from the competition, and an investigation of this episode began.
Very interesting details have emerged. The American has suffered from endless calluses on her feet for many years. She consulted many specialists, but neither changing shoes, nor bandaging her legs before matches, nor various treatment courses had the desired effect. In April 2019, the tennis player went to China to participate in one of the tournaments. Before the competition, Ashley checked into a five-star hotel with clay courts for a little workout. Due to the fact that her coach could not go with her, the tennis player asked the hotel staff to find her an instructor or sparring partner. Such a person was found, but the tennis player did not even find out his full name, but simply called him Zhang. She was introduced to the man as a local professional tennis player who works with Chinese athletes and is allegedly associated with the Chinese Tennis Federation.
One side of the jar was sticky and perhaps once there was a label on it, but the American claims that she received this cream without any identification marks, inscriptions or signs. The Chinese man began to assure the tennis player that it was “a simple Chinese antibacterial ointment” used by many local athletes. The tennis player anointed the blisters with this remedy, and then took the jar to her home in the USA and used the cream “as needed” for many months. Including Ashley applied this cream to wounds on the day she took a doping test in her hometown of Newport Beach.
When Kratzer received information about a positive doping test, for three months she began to regularly send various drugs and dietary supplements that she used to independent medical laboratories. But nowhere was the GHRP-6 in the lineup. And only at the end of July, when she sent the “Chinese cream” for testing, a message came that it contained a significant amount of a prohibited substance. Immediately after that, the American woman began to look for the very Zhang who gave her this jar, but neither the Chinese Tennis Federation, nor the hotel where she lived a year ago, could not help her.
According to Ashley, she never thought that “using a cream, skin lotion, ointment or other such drugs could cause a positive doping test.” How is this possible? Is this the naivety of an ignorant tennis player or a deception on her part? The tribunal examining the case found Kratzer’s explanation “quite satisfactory, taking into account the various probabilities.” But at the same time, according to one of the experts – the head of the Montreal laboratory, Professor Christian Ayotte, the possibility that the use of this drug could lead to a positive test is “highly unlikely.” However, in defense of the tennis player, all experts noted: despite the fact that the jar, which the American woman provided for the study, was opened, the cream itself contained the prohibited drug GHRP-6 “as an integral component, and was not contaminated with it later.”
As a result, despite the fact that the athlete was able to present a more or less intelligible version of how the prohibited substance got into her body, a special ITF tribunal stated that the disqualification could not be less than 4 years, since the athlete did not fulfill a number of her duties and her actions can be described as “reckless behavior.” Weak anti-doping education does not relieve the athlete of responsibility for the violation. “It is the personal responsibility of each player to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his / her body,” says article 2.1.1. Tennis Anti-Doping Program (TADP). Now the former 200th racket of the world Ashley Kratzer has the opportunity to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne to appeal this decision.
It is curious that sometimes tennis players were able to find convincing evidence for the court that illegal drugs entered their body at random. For example, Italian Sara Errani was able to reduce the period of ineligibility by revealing that her mother’s potent pill was dropped into her homemade food. Frenchman Richard Gasquet presented to the investigation the version that cocaine got into his body after a kiss with a girl who had this substance on her lips. The famous Colombian doubles player Robert Fara proved that doping came to him along with animal meat. The fact is that in Colombia it is allowed to use some medicines for gaining muscle mass in animal husbandry. Roland Garros finalist -2005 Mariano Puertafrom Argentina initially received 8 years of disqualification, but then managed to explain that he drank water from the same glass that the wife who took the pill had just used. After that, the Argentinean’s sentence was reduced to two years. But the arguments of Maria Sharapova that her agent, due to personal circumstances, missed the e-mail, which said that meldonium was on the list of prohibited drugs, the court did not consider as mitigating circumstances.