Jenson Brooksby has vowed to appeal a decision that saw him slapped with an 18-month ban from tennis, putting him out of competition until January 2025. The American was charged with missing three anti-doping tests in the space of a year. In a defiant statement, Brooksby said he had “never taken a banned substance in my life” and explained why he believed one of the missed tests wasn’t his fault despite an independent tribunal ruling against him.
Brooksby accepted a provisional suspension back in July after the International Tennis Integrity Agency found that he had three ‘whereabouts failures’ in a 12-month period. Tennis players are required to log their whereabouts for an hour a day and must be in the location given if a Doping Control Officer (DCO) arrives to conduct an anti-doping test.
The former world No 33 accepted that he missed the first and third tests outlined by the ITIA but argued that the second missed test was through no fault of his own. But Brooksby received an 18-month ban on Tuesday – backdated to his initial suspension in July – after an Independent Tribunal had a “high” degree of fault for missing the second test.
The American tennis star has now broken his silence on the decision in a lengthy statement as he vowed to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Brooksby said he was “very disappointed” to learn of his ban, adding: “I have never taken a banned substance in my life, and I was open and honest with the ITIA throughout my case.”
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The 22-year-old also gave his reasoning for the second missed test despite the Independent Tribunal ruling against him. “I understand that it is my responsibility and will learn and grow. I accepted that 2 of my missed tests were my fault, but I continue to maintain that my June 4 2022 missed test should be set aside,” he wrote.
Brooksby claimed that he was ready and waiting during the one-hour slot he gave with his whereabouts but a mix-up with the hotel caused problems. He continued: “On that date, I was in my hotel room for the entirety of my 1-hour testing window. The hotel room had been booked for the first part of my stay in the name of my physio (who was staying with me), because the ATP did not provide me with a room until June 4.
“Starting on June 4, the room was in my room, but I had been asked that my name be added to the room days before that, and had even given my passport to the hotel front desk when I needed a new key – if my name was not on the room when I showed my passport before June 4, then I’m not sure why the hotel gave me a key.
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“For some reason, on the morning of June 4, the hotel told the Doping Control Officer that I had not yet checked in, but they did show him their computer screen which already had my room number listed on it.” Brooksby also claimed that the Doping Control Officer did not ask the hotel to call his room, meaning he never knew the officer was there.
“Even having that information, the Doping Control Officer never asked the hotel to call my room, so I did not know that the Doping Control officer was there to test me – no call was made to my hotel room for the entire out, and the Doping Control Officer only called my cell phone (which was on silent) in the last 4 minutes of the testing window (at 6:56am). Had the Doping Control Officer called my hotel room even once, I would have for sure been tested, because I was awake and had nothing to hide,” he added.
“I intend to appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. I have been fighting injuries for almost a year, and my return to the sport that I love will unfortunately be delayed a little bit longer. But I will be back, and I hope it will be soon.”
The ITIA is set to publish the Independent Tribunal’s decision in the coming days. In a summary, they wrote: “Having considered the evidence, the tribunal found that Brooksby’s degree of fault for the missed test was high. The tribunal found that the DCO ‘took all reasonable steps to locate the player’ in the disputed test and the player was negligent by not making themself available for testing during the identified time slot.”
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