Italian player Sara Errani has been suspended for two months after a hearing concluded she accidentally took her mother's medication for breast cancer, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has confirmed.
The 30-year-old former French Open finalist was subjected to an out-of-competition test in February while staying with her parents and her urine sample was found to contain letrozole - a substance used in the treatment of breast cancer.
Letrozole is on the banned drug list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which describes it as an aromatase inhibitor that can act as a hormonal and metabolic stimulant.
An ITF statement said Errani was charged with an Anti-Doping violation on April 18 and had promptly asked for a hearing before an Independent Tribunal.
Former world number five Errani, now ranked 98th, will be ineligible until midnight on October 2 and her results between February 16 and June 7 will be disqualified, resulting in the loss of ranking points and prize money in that period.
The Tribunal heard that Errani's mother Flavia has been battling cancer since 2005 and was using a drug named Femara -- a brand name for letrozole -- after several relapses.
In evidence from Mrs Errani, which the Tribunal found 'entirely truthful' she says she believed one of her tablets from a blister pack kept near the kitchen worktop, had accidentally fallen and contaminated some soup and tortellini she was preparing.
Following their daughter's failed test her parents even carried out their own experiment to discover whether a tablet could have dissolved into broth, and found that it did.
"As a result of the findings that the Tribunal has made, it concludes that the degree of fault is at the lowest end of the scale," the Tribunal said.
Errani commented in a statement posted on her Twitter account (above): "I can only stand still and wait for this period to come to an end. I am extremely disappointed but at the same time at peace with my conscience, and aware I haven't done anything wrong."
mds (Reuters, AFP)