- Bonnie D. Ford, ESPN Senior Writer
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American tennis player Wayne Odesnik, who pleaded guilty in an Australian court to transporting human growth hormone into the country in his luggage earlier his year, made a written statement through his lawyer Tuesday saying he has never used HGH "or any other banned substance."
Odesnik said he is cooperating with the International Tennis Federation investigation that started after his criminal case was resolved and would refrain from further comment. The statement was issued by the office of Miami-based lawyer Christopher Lyons, who has previously represented NFL players Donte' Stallworth and Warren Sapp.
The 24-year-old Odesnik was fined by Australian authorities but is still eligible to play until the ITF's process has concluded. He faces sanctions that could include a two-year suspension.
He is competing this week in the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston and won his first-round match Monday against Polish teen Jerzy Janowicz. Odesnik, ranked No. 103 on the ATP tour, will next play another unknown, Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, on Thursday and could meet world No. 21 John Isner if both advance to the quarterfinals.
Under the World Anti-Doping Agency code, possession of a banned substance is a violation that can be punished in the same way as an actual positive test. Odesnik could have chosen to accept a provisional suspension while his ITF case is being decided but did not. His case and his decision to play on have outraged his fellow professionals, but ITF spokeswoman Barbara Travers said the organization is simply following its own due process rules.
Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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