/ 18 December 2009

Cleared Gasquet ready to turn the page

After his nightmare 2009 season, French tennis player Richard Gasquet insists he now wants to turn the page and get back to winning titles.

The 23-year-old former world top ten player saw his world ranking plummet to 52 after a positive test for cocaine following a kiss in a Miami nightclub resulted in him serving a ban.

”In my heart I was expecting this outcome because I’m innocent. So justice has been done,” the former French number one said after being cleared of doping on Thursday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Gasquet tested positive during the Miami Masters in March and was provisionally suspended in May before serving a two-and-a-half month retroactive ban.

But the ITF (International Tennis Federation) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) wanted him to be hit with a ban of one or two years.

It was their appeal to CAS which was rejected as sport’s top court acknowledged that the Frenchman was likely to have been inadvertently contaminated with a minute trace of the drug as a result of the kiss.

”I’m very, very happy this is behind me,” said a relieved Gasquet.

”It’s been very tough. I was positive in my head from the beginning because I knew that things should be OK. I’ve always told the truth.

”What was horrible was the way people look at you and to see yourself in the media.”

”I’ve been waiting for this appeal for four months. Even at the US Open this was on my mind and now I can return to training with a clear head.

”I can turn the page towards 2010,” said Gasquet who will now prepare for the first tournaments of the season in Australia.

The ruling means that Gasquet can now focus on adding to his five ATP titles the last of which he won in Mumbai in 2007.

”The aim is to return as quickly as possible to the top 20 then 15, little by little,” he explained.

”And above all I want to play Roland Garros and have a great tournament. I’ve missed it for the past two years. This year was terrible because I couldn’t even get into the stadium.”

Gasquet said that the experience had change him forever.

”I don’t know if I’ll take something positive away from this,” he said.

”I know that I’ll never be the same again, I took a big blow but I know that I’m going to do everything to have a great season.”

Gasquet said that he had been helped by the support of fellow tennis players including world number two Rafael Nadal.

”It did me good to have support,” he said. ”Today I saw that Gael [Monfils] and others left me a message. I’m going to try and call them all back.” — AFP