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Korda Banned For One Year

Former Australian Open champion Petr Korda lost an arbitration ruling today and was ordered to forfeit all prize since July 1998 for testing positive for the steroid Nandrolone at Wimbledon last year.

The ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport ends a protracted legal battle between Korda and the International Tennis Federation.

The 31-year-old Czech also received a one-year ban until Aug. 31, 2000, and lost computer ranking points accumulated since the 1998 Wimbledon. But that part of the punishment won't mean much to Korda, who retired in July after failing to gain a wild card at Wimbledon and losing in the qualifying round.

The CAS ruled there were no "exceptional circumstances" that would excuse Korda from any suspension.

"The ITF and its partners in the joint anti-doping program the ATP Tour and the WTA Tour are pleased that the intent of the anti-doping program regulations has been upheld," said Deborah Jevans, the ITF executive director of medicine.

"It is now clear that the burden of proof rests with the player to prove on the balance of probabilities how a banned substance came to be present in his body. This sets a clear precedent for the future."

"Players must demonstrate the circumstance in which the offense occurred if they wish to seek a reduction in the mandatory sanctions based on the relevant degree of intent, fault or negligence on their part."

Mark Miles, head of the ATP Tour, said the case supported the tour's efforts "to create the strongest anti-doping program possible."

Korda's case went to the CAS for a final ruling after the ITF won an appeal in a British court to seek a drug ban.

His failed drug test came after he lost in the Wimbledon quarterfinals to Tim Henman last year.

He avoided a mandatory one-year suspension when an independent appeals panel met in December and decided there were "exceptional circumstances" because he claimed he did not know he had taken, or been administered, the substance.

The panel found Korda had broken anti-drug rules. But instead of receiving a ban, Korda lost his prize money and ranking points from Wimbledon.

The lenient penalty angered players, and many threatened to boycott the Australian Open, where Korda was defending his title.

The ITF then appealed to the CAS in January, contending the panel had misapplied its rules.

Korda subsequently appealed to the High Court, which ruled the decision of the ITF's panel could not be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

But that decision was overturned in March by the Court of Appeal in London, allowing the ITF to procee. The CAS met to consider the case on July 29 in London.

Korda's case is one of several disputed drugs cases involved Nandrolone, which occurs naturally in the body and can be increased by certain foods.

Track and field was rocked before the recent world championships in Seville, Spain, when star Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey tested positive for the steroid.

Linford Christie, the 100-meter champion at the 1992 Olympics and now practically retired, tested positive for Nandrolone after an indoor meet this year at Dortmund, Germany.

Ottey and Christie contend they are innocent and plan to fight the accusations.

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