Dayana Yastremska tests positive for banned substance

Dayana Yastremska, the rising star who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2019, has become the highest-ranked singles player to test positive for a banned substance since Maria Sharapova almost four years ago.

On Thursday it was announced that Yastremska – the world No29 – had given a suspect urine sample during an out-of-competition test on Nov 24. Her sample contained metabolites of mesterolone, an anabolic steroid which is sometimes used to treat low testosterone levels in men.

The outcome, for now, is a provisional suspension pending the result of an anti-doping tribunal. In a statement, Yastremska said that she would contest the charge and would be blaming contamination for the positive test.

“I firmly state that I have never used any performance enhancing drugs or any prohibited substances,” she said. “I am astonished and under shock, particularly given that two weeks prior to this test – on 9 November 2020 – I tested negative at the WTA event in Linz.

“Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine,” Yastremska added. “Given that low concentration and given my negative test two weeks earlier, I have received scientific advice that the result is consistent with some form of contamination event. I am currently working with my team and you can be assured that I am resolutely determined to do everything to clear my name.”

In recent years, several other relatively high-profile players have escaped the maximum penalty of a four-year ban by claiming contamination. Italy’s Sara Errani said that a banned substance named letrazol had entered her tortellini broth after her mother’s cancer medication spilled onto the kitchen worktop, while Wimbledon doubles champion Robert Farah was deemed to have derived the boldenone in his bloodstream from eating Argentine beef.

At just 20, Yastremska is one of the brightest young stars on the tour, although she has yet to make a really deep run at a major. She was born in Odessa, Ukraine, and has also released a couple of songs as a recording artist.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Roger Federer declined to play at the Australian Open because of family reasons, rather than any hangover from the two knee operations he underwent last year.

In an interview with a Brazilian TV station, the Australian Open’s director of player relations Andre Sa said “He could [have] come with the whole family and quarantine [but] Roger’s wife Mirka, and their children, couldn’t leave the room … Mirka didn’t like that idea.

“The other option would be for him to go to Melbourne alone. In that case, there would be at least five weeks away from family and children. And then he said, ‘Dude, 39, four kids, 20 grand slams. I am no longer in time to be away from my family for five weeks.”

Finally, Heather Watson won a tight match yesterday against fellow Briton Jodie Burrage at the WTA event in Abu Dhabi. “My level was way off today,” said Watson after fighting back to secure a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory.

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