Odesnik receives two-year suspension from ITF

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 /by

LONDON (AP)—American tennis player Wayne Odesnik was banned for two years on Wednesday, two months after pleading guilty to importing human growth hormone into Australia.

Although Odesnik denied using HGH and never tested positive for the banned substance, the International Tennis Federation suspended him for possessing a prohibited substance “without a therapeutic use exemption.”

“Mr. Odesnik did not in fact obtain or apply for a therapeutic use exemption … prior to obtaining it,” the ITF said in a statement. “Accordingly, Mr. Odesnik’s possession of the human growth hormone is an anti-doping rule violation.”

Odesnik said he bought the drug to treat a recurring injury and intended to apply for a therapeutic use exemption.

Odesnik was stopped by customs officers on Jan. 2 when he arrived in Australia ahead of the Brisbane International, a warmup for the year’s first Grand Slam event. Eight vials, each containing 6 milligrams of the performance-enhancing substance, were found in his baggage.

He pleaded guilty in March was fined more than $7,000.

Last month, Odesnik agreed to a voluntary suspension from tennis. His ban will be backdated to start Dec. 29, 2009, and will end Dec. 28, 2011. All his results from this year will be wiped out.

Odesnik was born in South Africa and moved to the United States as a child. He turned pro in 2004 but has never won an ATP title, and his best ranking was 77th. He has reached one ATP final, on clay in Houston last year, and the highlight of his Grand Slam career was reaching the third round at the French Open in 2008.

Odesnik spends part of the year training in Miami. He is coached by former top-10 player Guillermo Canas of Argentina, who served a 15-month ban in 2005-06 after failing a doping test.

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