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November 17, 2009

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Home » Sports » Tennis

Suspended stars plan legal action against WADA

SUSPENDED Belgian players Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse are launching appeals with European authorities that will question the legality of the whereabout rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The cases come on top of the appeal before the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn their one-year suspension. Victory at the European Commission in Brussels and the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights could force WADA to drastically change its rules on when and where athletes can be tested out of competition.

"The indispensable fight against doping is not the issue here. The problem is the lack of proportionality of certain measures," their lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont said on Sunday.

Dupont was the lawyer of Belgian football player Jean-Marc Bosman and secured the 1995 ruling of the European Court of Justice which forced FIFA to drastically change its transfer rules and limits on foreign players.

Wickmayer, 20, received a one-year ban for failing to correctly report where she could be found for testing three times. The 16th-ranked player said she never missed a test nor tested positive.

Malisse, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2002, missed one test and twice failed to report his whereabouts. At 29, he said the one-year suspension could end his career.

"No one has accused them of doping, yet their careers are shattered," Dupont said. "The European Union treaty gives them the right to freely ply their trade and play throughout Europe. This right is now disproportionally violated," he said.

The controversial "whereabouts" rule is a cornerstone of the policies of the World Anti-Doping Agency. It requires elite athletes to make themselves available for out-of-competition testing for one hour a day, 365 days a year.

Under the rules, athletes must give three months' notice of where and when they can be located for testing. The information is registered online and can be updated by e-mail or text message. If an athlete misses three out-of-competition tests or fails three times to register where he will be for anti-doping tests, sanctions can be imposed.


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