Brazilian tennis player Bellucci to miss Australian Open after being handed five-month doping ban

Jan 5, 2018

The International Tennis Federation announced the ban, which commences from September 1, 2017, saying the 30-year-old had tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide.

Bellucci's account of how the hydrochlorothiazide got into his system was accepted by the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, however, and it was deemed that he bears "no significant fault or negligence for the violation".

The Progamme also said that Bellucci's period of ineligibility was backdated due to his prompt admission and for delays not attributable to him.

Bellucci, a winner of four singles titles, provided a urine sample on July 18, 2017 in association with his participation in the Swedish Open, an ATP World Tour event, held in Båstad.

That sample was sent to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in Montreal for analysis and was found to contain hydrochlorothiazide and its metabolite, chloraminophenamide.

Hydrochlorothiazide is a specified substance prohibited under category S5 of the 2017 WADA Prohibited List - diuretics and masking agents - and therefore is also prohibited under the Programme.

Bellucci promptly admitted his violation, but refused to accept a voluntary provisional suspension and, therefore, remained free to compete pending resolution of his case.

He can play again from February 1 and therefore will miss the Australian Open, which is scheduled to take place from January 15 to 28.

But given his current ranking of 112, he would have had to qualify anyway.

Bellucci, who reached a career-high 21st in the world rankings in 2010, insists he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

"I have shown that it wasn't my fault," he said in a statement.

"I never took any kind of supplement or any other substance that would favour me or break the rules of fair play in sport."

Bellucci has never been beyond the second round at the Australian Open.