Fish slams ITF for Odesnik’s ban cut in hormone case

Saturday, December 25, 2010

NEW YORK - Tennis player Mardy Fish of the US has slammed the leniency shown by international tennis officials to compatriot Wayne Odesnik, whose two-year ban for possessing human growth hormone was cut to one year in the run-up to Christmas.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) approved the South African- born Odesnik for a return to play next week after serving one year of his sanction.

Fish, ranked 16th, whose season ended prematurely in early October with a walkover loss in Beijing, called the decision in Odesnik’s favour “a black eye for all of sport, not just tennis.”

He told USA Today: “He is (Odesnik) a good player on enhanced substances. Let’s see if he can be a good player without them.”

Odesnik was fined in 8,000 dollars by an Australian court after vials of illegal human growth hormone were discovered in his luggage.

He later received a two-year ban for his major infraction, later rolled back thanks to his “cooperation.”

The ITF is keeping a lid on information regarding the Odesnik case, only saying that he is providing “substantial assistance” to its anti-doping program, which is “ongoing.”

The tainted player will be limited to lower-level events when and if he returns to the court due to a ranking which stands below 500 on the ATP.

“I am thrilled that I can return to the game and compete in the sport about which I am truly passionate,” said Odesnik in a statement.

“I have learned a lot during my time away from competitive tennis and I now have even a greater appreciation for what a privilege it is to be a professional athlete.”

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