July 18, 2024

Open Court

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Mikael Ymer suspended 18 months for violating “Whereabouts” rule

Swede Mikael Ymer was replaced at the last minute by a lucky loser for his scheduled first-round match in Gstaad on Tuesday.

Which isn’t an unusual occurrence if there’s an injury.

But it turns out that the 24-year-old, currently ranked No. 51, withdrew because he’s been handed an 18-month suspension by the ITIA.

As is happening more and more often, the player got out ahead of the ITIA’s official announcement by laying out the details on Twitter.

(When the ITIA issues its statement, we’ll update).

And it turns out it’s been ongoing for 18 months.

According to Ymer, he was charged back in Jan. 2022 for missing three out-of-competition tests within a 12-month period.

Those are violations of the “Whereabouts” rule, in which a player must let the anti-doping authorities know where they are for a one-hour period each day, in case of an unannounced visit by the dope testers.

Ymer said he successful fought the charge, and was cleared by the independant tribunal five months later, in June 2022. But that decision was appealed by the ITF to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

And the CAS handed down its decision Monday – more than a year later – suspending him for 18 months.

As with American Jenson Brooksby, who is in the same situation at the moment, Ymer feels that the third “missed” test was inaccurate (you can miss two during that 12-month period, but not three so the third one is what kicks in the sanctions).

But there’s not much he can do, once the CAS hands down its decision on appeal.

“I understand that these rules have been put in place to protect the integrity of our sport, and that they are there for a reason,” Ymer wrote on Twitter. “However, I do not believe I broke those rules, and my conscience is clear with God as my witness.”

Where Ymer errs is with his insistence that “not having used nor been accused of using banned substances” is a relevant fact in this situation. Although since people who don’t know much about the process will often jump to conclusions, perhaps it is important to make that distinction.

The purpose of the rule, of course, is to try to eliminate the possibility of players who are doping successfully evading tests when they know they will come up positive.

There have been others who have been caught up in that situation, including Alizé Cornet, who was suspended in Jan. 2018 under similar circumstances.

Cornet successfully appealed that suspension; it was a pretty wild tale, too, involving a malfunctioning apartment buzzer. It was overturned by a similar three-judge tribunal which also “cleared” Ymer, although it wasn’t unanimous and the ITF doesn’t appear to have appealed that decision to the CAS.

Back in 2009, Belgians Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse were suspended by their national federation for violating the same rule. That, too, was a long and drawn-out case.

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