A few hours ago I tweeted some news that had just come over the transom from the ITF's Anti-Doping Programme, declaring that Richard Gasquet has been found guilty of a doping offense, for testing positive for cocaine during the Sony Ericsson Open (a tournament from which he withdrew without playing a match, justifying to some degree his argument that the test should have been treated as an out-of-competition procedure, in which case the presence of cocaine would not have exposed him to suspension).
The good news for Gasquet is that because of the circumstances, the tribunal that judged him decided to reduce a career-damaging one-year suspension to a merely income-damaging time-out of two months and 15 days. Gasquet is receiving credit for time served from May 1. That means he's eligible to be back on the tour as of mid-July - certainly in time for most of the U.S. hard court season. That's a good thing, given the circumstances. For it seems the only thing Gasquet was guilty of was being young, foolish, and in touch with his male hormones (to which many of my French colleagues shouted, Allez!)
In fact, the official decision in the Gasquet case contains passages suggesting that Reeshard might be better served with a good old-fashioned lecture about the birds and the bees (and certain kinds of girls) than a career-threatening volley fired from high atop Mt. Big Brother. As the report notes:
He (Gasquet) is highly motivated and hard working, and also quite reserved and shy. He does not often socialise in large groups of people, preferring the company of people he knows and small groups. He rarely consumes alcohol. We accept that he is not a user of illegal recreational drugs, nor of performance enhancing drugs. He occasionally goes out to bars and nightclubs, but never does so when competing.
It's pretty clear that this guy is no Marat Safin, moreover, you've got to wonder if he's even French, given the substantial, well-earned reputation your typical, red-blooded, cheese-and-accordion fancying Frenchman enjoys for his pursuit of carnal pleasures.
The Tribunal accepts the player’s evidence that he and Pamela (a French girl whom Gasquet and his posse met during a night out) kissed mouth-to-mouth about seven times while they were at Set (a nightclub), each kiss lasting about five to ten seconds.
I have to wonder, did someone put a stop-watch on those kisses, and if so, why? Did Gasquet shoot for the 12 or 15 second mark on one of those first lip-locks and incur Pamela's scorn, earn a spirited slap in the face and the admonition, What kind of girl do you think I am, keep it under ten seconds from now on!
The report goes on:
We accept his (Gasquet's) evidence that he was not with Pamela constantly while at the club (theoretically this would allow Pamela to go shove whatever she wanted up her nose). At one stage the two of them went upstairs and sat on a sofa where they kissed. After that they came downstairs again, stopping to kiss on the stairs. The player then drank only water from a sealed bottle and a vodka and apple juice he had ordered from the bar. . .
Well, I've figured out how you can tell a nightclub from a typical home where traditional tonsil-hockey games are so assiduously played: at a nightclub, the sofa is upstairs! And while stopping to kiss on the stairs suggests a certain measure of Gallic flair, the illusion is quickly wiped out by that bit about Gasquet finishing up his modest flirtation with alcohol with - did I really read it right? - a vodka and. . .apple juice???? Whether he asked for it in a sippy cup, I guess we'll never know.
Then there's this:
(Later in that long night) the player went in a taxi with Pamela (to an after-hours type club she suggested). Goldrush turned out to be a strip club. The player and his three male companions did not like it and wanted to leave about 10 minutes after arriving. He did not have any physical contact with Denise (another of the seemingly indefatigable party girls) or anyone else at Goldrush.
Wait a minute. It was the guys who became uncomfortable in the strip club?
Well, one thing is pretty clear from all this: Reeshard - known to some as "Baby Federer" - is neither the swordsman nor the party animal that some may have made him out to be. And what's up with this:
The player (Gasquet) was disappointed that he would not be playing (in Miami). After arriving at the hotel and making the decision not to compete, he called his mother in France and agreed that she would change his flight back to France so that he would leave at 6pm on Saturday 28 March 2009.
So I ask you, at least those of you over the age of 17: when was the last time you called your mother, from halfway around the world, and asked her to change your flight? The only explanation for this is that Madame Gasquet is a travel agent, familiar with the dark art of avoiding booking-change fees, middle-seats, overbooked flights and such. The other option is that she's holding the purse strings for her 23-year old, who found himself in deep doo-doo because of a little cocaine, a dozen 10-second kisses shared with strip-club aficionada Pamela, and a vodka and apple juice.
I'm glad they didn't throw the book at Reeshard, and wish they would rewrite the doping rules to be more realistic. These kids are babes in the woods.