The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has rejected an attempt by Ukraine’s world No. 29 Dayana Yastremska to get her doping ban lifted.
Yastremska was suspended on January 7 after testing positive for a banned anabolic agent used in male infertility treatment.
Kayo is your ticket to the best sport streaming Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
The ITF said Yastremska was positive for the outlawed mesterolone metabolite in an out-of-competition test conducted last November.
Sunday’s decision is subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) by Yastremska, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the National Anti-Doping Centre of Ukraine.
At the time of the ban, Yastremska took to Twitter to deny any wrongdoing.
“I firmly state that I have never used any performance enhancing drugs or prohibited substances,” she wrote.
“I’m astonished and under shock, particularly given that two weeks prior to this test on November 9, I tested negative at the WTA event in Linz.”
Amazingly, Yastremska still flew to Melbourne recently, expecting to play in the Australian Open.
But someone on her chartered flight tested positive to COVID-19 and she was forced into a hard 14-day quarantine, unable to leave her room. When that is over, Yastremska’s ban means she won’t even be allowed to enter the grounds at Melbourne Park.
Tennis Australia also reportedly paid for her flight and hotel stay, prompting several figures to call for the governing body to be reimbursed.
Tennis writer Ben Rothenberg tweeted: “If I’m a Victorian politician, I make dang sure that Yastremska winds up paying for all of her expenses.”
Former head of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), Richard Ings, wrote: “Yastremska should never have been allowed to travel. She could have had an expedited hearing on her provisional suspension. Completed before she boarded the plane. The ITF /Tennis Anti-Doping Program is who should compensate Tennis Australia. They allowed her to travel.”
A week ago Russian tennis star Svetlana Kuznetsova uploaded a video of herself on Instagram walking around one of the chartered flights — not wearing a mask — alongside Yastremska, tagging the Ukrainian.
Journalist Tumaini Carayol cheekily said at the time a still image from that clip was “for numerous reasons, an early candidate for photo of the year”.
Based on the tweet below detailing her rollercoaster ride, we reckon he’s probably right.
RELATED: Andy Murray’s dramatic Australian Open exit
RELATED: Tennis whinger contracts virus, says sorry to Australia
Despite the threat of coronavirus, several stars posted photos of themselves mingling on their flights. However, players were allowed near each other if they were going to be practise partners in Melbourne, as was the case with Angelique Kerber and Sorana Cirstea, who uploaded some snaps together.
Jannik Sinner posed for a photo with a member of the flight crew, while Kuznetsova attracted backlash for not wearing a mask — particularly as it emerged passengers on three flights tested positive to COVID-19.
Earlier in the week broadcasters David Law and Catherine Whitaker both questioned how the Yastremska situation would play out when the photo of her on the plane was posted to social media.
“The plot thickens there,” Whitaker said on The Tennis Podcast. “Maybe she’s brought bad juju to the whole flight.”
Law added: “We’ve seen social media posts from that flight with Kuznetsova and Cirstea, Kerber, Yastremska.
“Why she’s there, given that she’s supposedly serving a provisional suspension, I don’t know.
“It looked like a holiday camp, to be quite honest.
“Those sorts of images are going to get the backs up of the authorities and they’re not going to help with the benefit of the doubt, will they.”
Yastremska has won three WTA titles in her career, with her best grand slam performance a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2019.