Odesnik serves doping ban

LONDON - American tennis player Wayne Odesnik has accepted "a voluntary provisional suspension" from all events, including the Grand Slam tournaments and other ATP-sanctioned competitions.

LONDON - American tennis player Wayne Odesnik has accepted "a voluntary provisional suspension" from all events, including the Grand Slam tournaments and other ATP-sanctioned competitions.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said in a statement yesterday that the suspension started last Friday. Because it is a voluntary suspension, Odesnik could decide to play again at any time.

Odesnik, who pleaded guilty last month to importing human growth hormone into Australia before a tournament ahead of the Australian Open, has not tested positive for a banned substance. He will face an independent tribunal in the next two months, according to ITF rules.

"How long that suspension will remain in place will be at the discretion of the player, but we would normally expect it to continue through to the point at which a tribunal renders a decision on the case," said Stuart Miller, the head of the ITF's anti-doping programme. "Technically, the length of any withdrawal is his choice."

The 24-year-old Odesnik was stopped by customs officers on January 2 when he arrived in Australia ahead of the Brisbane International, a warm-up tournament for the year's first Grand Slam event.

Eight vials, each containing 6mg of the performance-enhancing substance, were found in his baggage.

Odesnik has denied taking the banned substance, and despite his plea and subsequent fine, continued to play on the ATP tour.

He reached the semifinals of the US Men's Clay Court Championships this month. - Sapa-AP

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