Tennis star says 'treated like a criminal' with doping ban

Serbia's Viktor Troicki will appeal against his 18-month suspension for missing a drugs test.

Story highlights

  • Viktor Troicki hits back after being suspended for missing a drugs test
  • Serbian star given 18-month ban by International Tennis Federation
  • Troicki insists he was given permission to skip drugs test
  • The 27-year-old will appeal against the decision at Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A leading tennis player believes he has been "treated like a criminal" after being hit with an 18-month ban for flouting doping regulations and plans to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

World No. 53 Viktor Troicki was suspended by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Thursday after being found guilty of failing to provide a blood sample in a drugs test during April's Monte Carlo Masters.

But Serbian Troicki has rejected the charge, alleging the doctor conducting the blood test allowed him to miss the procedure and says he will now appeal the decision.

Read: Tennis serves up new doping measures

"The doctor in charge of the testing told me that I looked very pale and ill and that I could skip the test if I wrote an explanation letter to the ITF about it," he said in a statement.

"She dictated the letter to me and let me go without giving blood. She was very helpful and understanding.

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"Now I'm being charged for refusing to undergo a blood test without justification. This is a real nightmare.

"I put my trust in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, I really hope they will look for the truth and find it."

The 27-year-old Troicki confirmed that he underwent a test the following day by the same doping control officer with the result coming back negative.

He also revealed that he had never previously missed a test and had undergone several blood and urine examinations during his career.

But the ITF has taken a different stance on the story, insisting that the doping control officer had told Troicki that "she could not advise him as to whether his reason for not providing a blood sample was valid, and that no such assurances were given by her."

Read: Murray condemns 'cover up'

"I feel like I'm being treated like a criminal," added Troicki as he contemplated the 18-month ban.

"I have a fear of the needle and I always have trouble drawing blood. But I always did. I am clean and will always be clean throughout my career.

"I just had the wrong doctor, who didn't tell me at all that I was risking anything. She showed me a letter of the ITF saying she is in charge of the decisions and I trusted her completely.

"I wish I had recorded the discussion, there would never have been a case if I had.

"This enormous sanction makes me speechless. It feels like the world that I help building day-by-day has let me down. It is the worst feeling you can imagine."

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Troicki reached a career high of 12 in 2011 and has won $4.5 million in prize money during his career.

He is the third tennis player to be hit with a ban for drug violations in 2013.

In May, Brazil's Fernando Romboli was handed an eight-and-a half-month ban after testing positive for diuretics, furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide.

In February, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic was banned for six months after testing positive for sibutramine, a substance which is often found in weight-loss products.

In March, the ITF confirmed it would introduce biological passports to tackle drug cheats.

Each player will have an individual electronic biological profile and be tested more regularly to monitor their levels and alert the authorities to possible drug use.

The scheme was welcomed by the world's top players with Roger Federer telling CNN that it was "naive" to think tennis was free of players who use drugs to enhance their performance.

Read: Tipsarevic says tennis is clean

But Troicki believes he was simply misled and insists he has no problem with the current drug regulations.

"The doping rules are strict and they must remain strict. But this was a clear mistake from the on-site doping control officer who was also a doctor and the person in charge to decide," added the Serbian.

"She let me go and reassured me. In my opinion, once she found out that she didn't follow procedures she turned her back on me.

"I am destroyed and exhausted. The whole period I have been thinking about this issue and it's not over, so I can't really describe it.

"I am not even angry with the doctor. I believe that maybe she was told her organization that she made a big mistake letting me go. She backed up and tried to save her job.

"I am a fighter and I will try to fight together with my team and my lawyers but I am quite destroyed now. I hope this nightmare will come to a good end. I really want to continue playing. I don't deserve this."

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