Former top-20 player Varvara Lepchenko has been handed a four-year doping suspension by the International Tennis Federation after she tested positive for a banned stimulant during a tournament last year.
Her lawyer, Howard Jacobs, said that American Lepchenko intends to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The 35-year-old Uzbekistan-born player, who has represented the United States in the Olympics and the Billie Jean King Cup, took the doping test after a first-round loss at the Hungarian Grand Prix last July.
She went on to appear in three other tournaments, including winning the title at an event in Charleston, South Carolina, before being provisionally suspended in August.
The written ruling says Jacobs told the panel that supplement contamination “can not be completely eliminated” as a possible cause of his client’s positive test, but the tribunal determined that Lepchenko failed to prove that her use of the banned substance was unintentional.
The tribune’s four-year punishment was backdated to August 19, 2021, the start of Lepchenko’s provisional suspension and she’s eligible to return to competition in August 2025, when she will be 39.
This was Lepchenko’s second doping violation, but the International Tennis Federation said she is being penalised as if it were her first.
That’s because it was determined she was not at fault in the other case, which involved testing positive in 2016 for meldonium, the heart medication that led to Maria Sharapova’s doping ban.
Lepchenko moved from Uzbekistan with her father and sister to Florida. She was granted political asylum, began living in Pennsylvania in 2003, and became a US citizen in 2011.