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ITF appeal against decision in Gasquet doping case

France's Richard Gasquet hits a return against Fernando Verdasco of Spain at the Indian Wells ATP tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, March 16, 2009. REUTERS/Michael Fiala

BERNE (Reuters) - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has appealed against a decision allowing French tennis player Richard Gasquet to return to the international circuit after testing positive for cocaine.

“The ITF can confirm that, jointly with WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency), it has appealed to CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport) the decision of the independent tribunal in the case of Richard Gasquet,” the ITF said in a statement.

Gasquet, 23, was provisionally suspended in May after a sample he had provided in March in Miami tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine.

In July, an independent tribunal set up under the tennis anti-doping program found him guilty but ruled that he had been inadvertently contaminated in a nightclub.

He was banned for two months and 15 days, backdated to May 1. The tribunal ruled that his results, ranking points and prize money from subsequent events would stand.

Gasquet, who is now ranked 37th in the world, has always claimed his innocence and said he had a hair sample tested by an independent laboratory “which showed no trace of cocaine.”

“I have never taken any cocaine in my life, I can swear it,” he was quoted as telling French media before the tribunal’s hearing in July.

“I saw a person who was at that party and this person told me he/she was offered cocaine that night, that there was a lot of cocaine. I did not see it. Had I seen it, I would have left that night club.”

Editing by Ken Ferris