Wickmayer not saying if she'll appeal
BRUSSELS -- Belgian tennis player Yanina Wickmayer says she was never properly informed of the online reporting requirements for drug testing that led to her one-year ban from the sport.
At a tearful news conference Thursday, the 20-year-old U.S. Open semifinalist accused the World Anti-Doping Agency and Belgian sports authorities of treating her unfairly and ruining her career.
"The people who made the rules are not really conscious of what this means for my future," Wickmayer said. "I am No. 16 in the world. They are taking my work of 10 years away. Just like that! Just because I didn't fill in [my whereabouts]."
Wickmayer was suspended by a Belgian anti-doping tribunal last week for failing three times to report her whereabouts for drug testing. The ban was confirmed by the International Tennis Federation last Saturday.
"They should inform us better on how this system works," she said. "I am being punished for something that was not in my hands, that I had no control over."
Another Belgian player, 2002 Wimbledon semifinalist Xavier Malisse, was also banned for a year for the same offense.
Wickmayer said she has been regularly tested for drugs and never tested positive.
Although Wickmayer had indicated she would appeal the suspension, she refused Thursday to say if and when she will appeal.
"I don't know what the future is going to bring," she said.
Wickmayer said a year away from the tour will break her career.
"It means that my ranking is going to drop completely," she said. "It means I have to start all over again. The next year will not be a challenge for me because all I can do is practice. I am just a girl of 20 trying to reach my goals. I am working hard every single day. I am really sad about the decision they made."
Wickmayer said anti-doping officials corresponded with registered mail to her home in Belgium where she lives with her father, who is also her coach.
The two travel together several months of the year, meaning registered mail remains unopened. Wickmayer expressed surprise that no one phoned or e-mailed her when the mail went unanswered.
Under WADA's "whereabouts" rule, elite athletes must make themselves available for out-of-competition testing for one hour a day, 365 days a year. They must give three months' notice of where and when they will be available so they can be tested.
The data is kept on a Web site where it can be changed. If athletes miss three out-of-competition tests or fail three times to register where they will be for anti-doping tests, they risk sanctions.
As she circled the globe, Wickmayer -- whose career earnings to date total less than $1 million -- said she received no guidance from tennis or anti-doping authorities on how to file her whereabouts data.
"They should inform us better on how this system works," she said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press