Where has Thomaz Bellucci been? Serving a “silent ban” that’s where. The former Brazilian No. 1 tested positive for the masking agent hydrochlorothiazide while in Bastad on July 18 and hasn’t hit a ball on tour since the US Open, the ITF announced today.
Bellucci had his sentence reduced from up to four years down to five months by successfully arguing the prescription vitamins he was taking over the summer were unknowingly contaminated with the prohibited substance. Since he didn’t play after the US Open, his suspension is backdated to September 1 and his ban will expire on January 31.
On 18 September 2017, Mr. Bellucci was charged with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Programme (presence of a Prohibited Substance in a Player’s Sample). Mr. Bellucci promptly admitted his violation, but refused to accept a voluntary provisional suspension and, therefore, remained free to compete pending resolution of his case. (Note: under the Programme, only cases involving mandatory or voluntary provisional suspensions are announced prior to the issuance of a final decision).
Mr. Bellucci’s account of how the hydrochlorothiazide got into his system was accepted and that he bears No Significant Fault or Negligence for the violation. The Programme provides for the start date of the period of ineligibility of five months to be backdated due to the prompt admission and for delays not attributable to Mr. Bellucci. Therefore, the start of the ban is back-dated by two and a half months pursuant to Programme Article 10.10.3(b) and by a further six weeks pursuant to Programme Article 10.10.3(c). As a result, the ban is deemed to have started on 1 September 2017, and so will expire at midnight on 31 January 2018.
This is Mr. Bellucci’s first Anti-Doping Rule Violation. The decision determines that (1) Mr. Bellucci has committed a violation of the Programme; (2) he must serve a period of ineligibility of five months; and (3) that period of ineligibility is back-dated to start on 1 September 2017 and so ending at midnight on 31 January 2018. In accordance with Programme article 9.1, the points and prize money obtained by Mr. Bellucci at the Båstad event are disqualified. The full decision can be found at www.itftennis.com/media/277960.pdf.
So why wasn’t this made public earlier? Why the “silent ban”? Per the decision, Bellucci declined a provisional suspension, which allowed him to keep playing (he didn’t) and avoided announcement before the decision.
Ranked No. 112 this week, The 30-year-old Bellucci has been as high as No. 21. The lefty has 199 career wins and 4 career titles.
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