WHO IS THE DOPE, VOLANDRI OR ITF? — Italy’s Filippo Volandri has been banned for three months and will miss the Australian Open after failing a doping test. “The Tribunal found that a sample provided by Mr. Volandri on 13 March, 2008 at the ATP Tour event in Indian Wells contained salbutamol at a concentration greater than 1,000 ng/ml,” the ITF said in a statement. Volandri blames it on an inhaler he takes for treating asthma, and says he had a medical exemption certificate to use Ventolin, which contains salbutamol, to treat his condition but was deemed to have exceeded his limit. “The amount of salbutamol he inhaled was not consistent with such [exemption certification] use, and so could not be said to be proper therapeutic use,” the ITF said. “The Tribunal therefore found that a doping offence had been committed.”
The Tribunal has spoken — but is it a case of the too-heavy hand in sports doping? Volandri has not played an event since October and was scheduled to play the Aussie Open, but will instead sit on the couch and flip the remote until April 2009.
Volandri recorded a win over Roger Federer last year, now in retrospect — due to huffing the special dope! Volandri will likely appeal as…the whole thing is borderline ridiculous. Drug testing in tennis is internationally held in high regard, but isn’t this like the cop who hasn’t met his quota of tickets?
“It’s absurd,” Volandri told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Since I was seven I’ve used the same substance to cure my asthma. At the start of the Indiana Wells tournament in March I was ill and I took more of it…When I have an attack I don’t think about anti-doping and I wouldn’t wish that sense of suffocation on anyone. You feel like you are dying, you only think about getting better and breathing again.”
In addition to roughly five months out of the game, the extra squirt from the inhaler will cost the Italian $166,000 in returned prize money.
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