MILAN (AP) — Former French Open finalist Sara Errani struggled to hold back the tears on Wednesday as she insisted she is not a cheat after being handed a two-month doping ban.
The International Tennis Federation announced the suspension on Monday after Errani tested positive for the banned substance letrozole in a test taken in February.
At a news conference, Errani continued to blame food contamination from her mother’s breast cancer medication.
“The sentence speaks clearly: I was found guilty of the involuntary ingestion of a substance which does not have a doping effect on a female,” said Errani, who reiterated several times that letrozole is not a performance-enhancing drug.
“I don’t know exactly how it could have happened that a pharmaceutical pill taken by my mother ended up in the food, but it’s the only plausible option, because we have eliminated all the others.”
The 30-year-old Errani was informed of the results of the test on April 28 but decided to continue playing tennis in the hope she could avoid a ban.
“It is up to the athlete whether to continue playing or to suspend themselves,” she said. “I decided to continue because I knew and I know that I had done nothing wrong.
“I hoped for and I worked toward being found not guilty, unfortunately the test on my hair that I presented wasn’t accepted because of a legal technicality … I have always been a champion of clean sport, and I remain convinced that anyone who voluntarily dopes should be banned for life.”
An adjudication panel ruled that Errani’s fault was “at the lower end of the scale,” but that she should still be banned for two months from Aug. 3.
Errani’s ban will end on Oct. 2, precluding her from playing in the U.S. Open.
“I hope this time will give…