Yanina Wickmayer gives the whole story behind her doping ban

Yanina WickmayerBelgian world No.16 Yanina Wickmayer got a one-year suspension, having failed to report her whereabouts to anti-doping officials on three occasions. The 20-year-old is now explaining the whole story, step by step.

Here’s the full transcript of Wickmayer’s presser at the Koning Boudewijn Stadium in Brussels, Belgium.

Welcome,

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who is present here today. It is extremely important for me to be able to tell my story.

- November and December 2008, I was training in Switzerland.

- In January 2009, I was in Australia to prepare myself for the Australian Open.

- Because of this, all of the letters that were sent to my house that had to be signed for, I was unable to receive and were returned to sender.

- On February 18, 2009 I went online and Googled the general email address of the doping agency, and sent them and email to ask for information as I had heard several players talk about the new anti doping program.

- On February 19, 2009, I received an email back, which included a login and did not include any information about the one failed update I had already missed, without knowing that this system even exists, even though all the letters that I had to sign for upon receipt and were sent back to the Flemish Anti-Doping Agency, meaning that they did know that I never received them.

- After this email, I left for the United States for 7 weeks and have tried numerous times to sign on to the system with the login details that they provided to me, which failed time after time.

- In early April, I then sent an email myself again to notify them that I could not get into the system.

- After the weekend, their reply to me was simply that there was a problem with my login and that they have reset this so I can log in with a new login into the system. There was no indication in this email that I now had already had two failures to update behind my name, even though I had not even logged into the system once.

- Following their reply to me and using the new login information, I mistakenly completed the online whereabouts details wrong, as I did not know that you could not select the option ‘competition’ and instead had to select the option "permanent residence", which I had no idea about.

- In June, I then called Mr. De Bruyn myself to ask him information as to how top complete the wherabouts correctly. I got the information that day for the first. This conversation took place after my 3rd missed update had already happened, even though I had not received any word about this.

- From that day on, my WADA has always been updated correctly and I have been tested out of competition at home.

- At the end of June it was that the Belgian Tennis Federation was notified about the situation. They notified my father about this by email.

Consequences for my career:

- As a result of this, I am being punished extremely hard. I will lose my ranking and will have to start again from 0. I will fight back but there is nothing that guarantees me that I will return to the same ranking.

- Throughout the year, I have had numerous doping test, and I have never failed or refused one.

- I have never had any education or information about it.

- The system is needed and I find it a good idea but it should happen in a more personal manner.

- Tennis players travel a lot so these updates are sometimes very difficult to do.

We are going to appeal this ruling and will do everything we can to get it overturned. If this decision is not overturned and I am not able to compete for a year, I am going to do everything I can to be back at the end of the year even stronger. I am a fighter and won’t give up.

I would also like to thank my team, my fans, and anyone else who have supported me so intensely. Words can not explain how much that support means to me.

(source: HCFoo's Tennis Blog, photo via emmett.hume)

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14 thoughts on “Yanina Wickmayer gives the whole story behind her doping ban

  1. Karunya

    This is sooo bad! WADA is angry with tennis officials for letting Agassi slip through, so now they "act tough" and decide to punish poor Yanina!!

  2. Karunya

    Her story sounds true enough to me. Even though it does seem slightly stupid that she didn't know that there was an option of testing "in competition" or from "permenant residence", they should have given proper information/education to the players before they implemented this system.
    Also it was very wrong of them to not inform her that she had missed her first two tests.

  3. Karunya

    A one-year suspension is a very harsh punishment for something so minor. I hope she wins the appeal!
    If she doesn't, it would be a terrible blow to her game, confidence and not to mention endorsement deals!

  4. Marija Post author

    I don't know, I don't believe she was doping and avoiding the tests. I believe her that she was misinformed and confused about the system.

  5. sms

    1 yr is harsh, they should first give a warning , then, suspension but not 1 yr. maybe the 1st offense is 1 month then 2nd 3 mos. and so on….

  6. Kartik

    This is harsh indeed. Its not like she was caught using performance enhancing drugs. Gotta re-examine the process to reach out and educate with empathy, instead of a witch-hunt … it has to be "innocent until proven guilty" and not the other way round

  7. Juan

    Yanina's ban is really excessive, given that she didn't fail or missed any test (she just missed to update her 'whereabouts'), the system was just implemented, not working well and players hadn't any education on it. This system is not well-suited for tennis players, who are rarely at home and from january to october can be easily located just looking at their tournament schedule.
    My opinion is that Flemish Anti-Doping Agency is trying to get noticed, as it is not the first time (I remember they tried to ban Kuznetsova after an exhibition match in Belgium a few years ago).
    Wickmayer will win the appeal for sure (c'mon, even Gasquet was reduced ban to 2 months after being tested possitive for cocaine)

  8. clearwater

    I hope the powers at be do an objective, open review of her appeal.

    How many players were subjected to the same process and were or were not able to comply?

    To some of us, Wickmayer is not a sympathetic figure. See the first comment at:

    http://bit.ly/4nMAcx

    for Wickmayer's behavior that destroyed a challenger event earlier this year.

  9. Mentari

    Gasquet was banned for two months after being tested positive for cocaine, and why the hell she's suspended for a year for having failed to report her whereabouts to anti-doping officials!?

  10. Diane

    Though I sympathize with Wickmayer–the penalty is very harsh–I haven't heard anyone else complain about a lack of education about the ADAMS rules. It also seems that she didn't treat the matter with the urgency it required. Having said that, I still hope she wins her appeal.

    FYI, Mentari…The ATP is appealing Gasquet's two-month ban and seeking a harsher penalty.

  11. Sher

    How many of us have had problems loging in to systems online? I believe that part of her story completely. WADA should also have made sure she was notified that (a) some letters missed her, and (b) she had 1 and then 2 strikes against her. Since she has been tested through out the year anyway, and never failed her tests, it is misguided at best and malevolent at worst for WADA to suspend a player for a YEAR over something so stupid.

    But then, anyone who has read what comes out of WADA's mouth in press conferences won't be surprised. The organization sounds like it's run by some kind of medieval spanish inquisition type.

  12. iceager

    The general tennis public outside of Belgium might not have heard about other players having trouble, of course.

    But according to the Flemish media, dozens of Flemish athletes have missed two reports due to the same kinds of difficulties that Wickmayer had: not being educated about the new system and troubles with the computerized reporting process. Wickmayer was unfortunate in that in spending so much time outsider her home country, she reached the magic number of three strikes against her, which, according to the rules, carries the same weight as a missed test.

    Dick Norman, another Flemish tennis player, also went on record with his own difficulties with the reporting system.

    Note that this discussion only applies to Flemish athletes. Tennis players from other countries and other regions of Belgium are not subject to the same set of rules, lest anyone imagine that all the other tennis players handled the reporting regime without problems.

  13. Pingback: Yanina Wickmayer still not allowed to compete | Yanina Wickmayer

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