Fri, 10 Apr 2020

Sithole accepts charge for doping violation

21 Feb 2020, 22:12 GMT+10

Pretoria - South African wheelchair tennis player Lucas Sithole has accepted the International Tennis Federation (ITF)'s decision to ban him for two years from all forms of competition.

This follows Sithole's failure to comply with the requirement to make himself available and accessible for testing three times within a 12-month period.

The two-time Grand Slam quad champion acknowledged his errors in judgement and cited a combination of family emergencies and personal challenges as the reasons for his unavailability.

"I take full responsibility for my mistakes that have led to my suspension. I respect the ITF's decision and continue to be a supporter of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme and their fight to keep our sport clean. I can also confirm that throughout my career I have never tested positive for any banned or illegal substances.

"The first half of 2019 was a difficult time for me, I lost a few close family members and had to make unplanned trips to Newcastle (in KZN) which contributed to my unavailability. During this period Wheelchair Tennis South Africa also closed its operations and sold the athletes house - which was our permanent accommodation. This created challenges for me," said Sithole.

The 33-year-old Sithole urged other athletes to be aware of the importance of whereabouts notifications and being accessible for tests at all times.

"I would like to urge other players to always fill correct whereabouts information, and to fully understand the implication of what could happen if tests are missed," said Sithole.

Sithole, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal, became the first man from Africa to win a singles US Open title of any kind when he lifted the Grand slam trophy in 2013 in New York and went on to win the Australian Open doubles title in 2016.

Sithole will be eligible to return to competition on September 30, 2021.

"I intend to keep training hard to stay fit mentally and physically, in order to prepare myself for my return in 2021," concluded Sithole.

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