French Open finalist banned 8 years

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Puerta was penalized for his second doping offense.

LONDON -- Mariano Puerta was a long shot when he reached the French Open final in June. Now, the 27-year-old Argentine is facing the longest doping ban in tennis history.

Puerta was banned for eight years Wednesday for his second doping offense. He is the first tennis player to receive a ban of more than two years.

"I find it extraordinary that it could ever be thought satisfactory that a person's livelihood can be terminated in circumstances such as these," Puerta said in a statement.

Puerta tested positive for the cardiac stimulant etilefrine after losing to Rafael Nadal in the French Open final on June 5.

The three-man International Tennis Federation tribunal said the drug apparently came from effortil, a medication Puerta's wife takes for hypertension.

"We accept on the balance of probabilities that the player's contamination with effortil was inadvertent," said the ITF tribunal. "The amount of etilefrine in his body was too small to have any effect on his performance."

Puerta did not dispute the drug was in his body, and the ITF accepted his plea of "no significant fault or negligence."

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