World No. 1, Robert Farah, admitted that he tested positive for a banned substance, hours after retiring from the Australian Open for personal reasons.
The Open received another blow when Chilean Nicolás Jarry, a recent participant of the ATP Cup, was provisionally suspended for testing anabolic agents Ligandrol and Stanozolol.
Jarry, 24, protested his innocence and said he believed he had ingested contaminated multivitamins prescribed by his doctor and that the levels in his test were so low that they could not have improved performance.
“I would like to let you know that I have never deliberately or intentionally taken any prohibited substance in my career as a tennis player and, in fact, I completely oppose doping,” Jarry said in a statement.
“My legal team and I will work very hard to prove my innocence and that is why I have offered my full cooperation to the International Tennis Federation.”
Farah, a 32-year-old Colombian, said the International Tennis Federation (ITF) informed him that he had tested positive for Boldenona, an anabolic steroid, which said it was the result of eating meat in his home country.
“I will not be able to play at the Australian Open, an event I had been preparing for since December,” Farah wrote on Twitter, which won last year’s men’s doubles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open.
“A few hours ago, the ITF informed me of the presence of Boldenona in a test I did on October 17, 2019 in Cali.
“Two weeks before the aforementioned test … I did an anti-doping test in Shanghai that had a negative result. And they also did at least another 15 random tests on the international circuit throughout the year with the same negative result.”
“As stated by the Colombian Olympic Committee in 2018, this substance is frequently found in Colombian meat and can affect the results of athletes’ tests.”
Farah said he would consult his group of advisors and consider the next steps to show that he did not deliberately consume the prohibited substance.
“I am calm and confident in the results of this process since I have always acted correctly and honestly in my life,” he added.
“I will work harder than ever to return to court in the shortest possible time.”
Farah, born in Canada, who along with his longtime partner and Colombian teammate Juan Sebastián Cabal were the ATP doubles team of the year in 2019, has already retired from this week’s Adelaide international warming event.
A spokeswoman for Tennis Australia told Reuters that Cabal, 33, had to stay in Melbourne and play doubles with another teammate.
The Australian Open starts Monday.