WTA veteran Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic has been suspended for six months after testing positive for a banned stimulant, the International Tennis Federation said Thursday.
According to the ITF's decision, Zahlavova Strycova tested positive for sibutramine, a stimulant listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency's 2012 prohibited substances in-competition list, on Oct. 16 at the Luxembourg Open, in violation of Article 2.1 of the WADA Code.
Zahlavova Strycova, 26, did not have a valid exemption for use of the drug and claimed she accidentally ingested it via a weight-loss supplement called ACAI Berry Thin. Though the ITF determined that Zahlavova Strycova bore no significant fault and reduced her ban, her lack of intent or accidental ingestion is irrelevant under WADA's anti-doping rules. As Article 2.1 states, the responsibility is squarely on the athlete to stay clean.
"It is each Athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance enters his or her body," the code reads. "Athletes are responsible for any Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers found to be present in their Samples. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, fault, negligence or knowing Use on the Athlete’s part be demonstrated in order to establish an antidoping violation under Article 2.1" Zahlavova Strycova reached a career-high ranking of No. 39 in 2010. Though she began 2012 at No. 44, her poor results led to a tumble to No. 92. While she is a member of the Czech Republic's champion Fed Cup team, the last tie in which she competed was last February, well before her positive test. Her six-month ban will be backdated to the date of the offense, Oct. 16, and end on April 15. Her results from the 2012 Luxembourg Open and the one tournament she played since, the ITF Bueschl Open, are also disqualified. Any rankings points or prize money from those events must be forfeited.