American Vavara Lepchenko was cleared of her doping violation for taking meldonium, the ITF announced today.
The 30-year-old tested positive for the drug four times in January, February, March and April but she successfully argued that the drug was in her system from using it BEFORE the 2016 ban. And she didn’t take it again after December 20.
“Lepchenko made a successful application to the Chairman of the Independent Tribunal established to hear the case to have her provisional suspension lifted,” the ITF stated. “This was on the grounds that the meldonium present in her samples came from a course of Mildronate tablets that she stopped taking on or around 20 December 2015. WADA published a second Meldonium Notice on 30 June 2016, on the basis of which WADA advised the ITF that the concentrations found in Ms. Lepchenko’s samples are consistent with her account of pre-1 January 2016 use.
“Accordingly, it was accepted by the ITF that Ms. Lepchenko bore no fault or negligence for the violation, and that any period of ineligibility that may otherwise have been imposed is eliminated entirely under Programme Article 10.4.”
Lepchenko was provisionally suspended on March 12. She didn’t play again until May leading many to speculate she had been serving a “silent ban”.
Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova’s appeal case was pushed back again and will be determined by the CAS early in October. Unlike Lepchenko, Sharapova continued to take meldonium after the ban was in place at the start of the year. She is appealing a 2-year suspension.
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