Puerta Awaits Fate
Mariano Puerta may well learn his tennis future in the next two days. An independent tribunal is meeting in an American city this week to rule on Puerta's doping case. The French Open finalist, who reportedly tested positive for a banned stimulant after falling to Rafael Nadal in the French Open final in June, could face a lifetime ban from tennis if found guilty of another doping offense.
The 12th-ranked Argentine is not obligated to appear before the tribunal, according to his web site Mariano Puerte.com.ar .
Puerta vehemently denied a published report alleging he tested positive for a banned stimulant after falling to Rafael Nadal in the French Open final. Puerta, who served a drug suspension in 2003, could face a lifetime ban from tennis if found guilty of another doping offense.
"I'm really angry, I've started investigations with my lawyers. This is a very delicate subject, there's no truth in it," Puerta told Reuters in a telephone interview from Tokyo in October. "It's news to me. It's strange because nobody from the ATP or ITF has called me."
ATP policy prohibits comment until a decision is reached in a doping case.
"The ATP's policy is to not comment on any doping case until the decision of an independent tribunal," ATP spokesman Pete Holtermann told the Associated Press.
On October 5th, French sports newspaper L'Equipe reported traces of the banned stimulant etilefrine were found in Puerta's urine sample after he lost the Roland Garros final to Nadal.
"The newspapers can say anything without proof. I haven't taken anything I shouldn't," Puerta told Reuters."If there's an Argentine who was positive let them find him. After the (previous) positive I've got to be very careful, I can't even take an orange juice."
Puerta served a nine-month suspension in 2003 after testing positive for banned substance clenbuterol. He could be banned for life if he is found guilty of another drug offense.
In August, fellow Argentine Guillermo Canas was hit with a two-year suspension positive for the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide during the Acapulco tournament last February. Canas is appealing the suspension. His appeal will be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland in February.