January 4, 2018 / 11:48 PM / a year ago

Tennis - Brazil's Bellucci banned five months for doping

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - 31/5/17 Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci in action during his second round match against France's Lucas Pouille Reuters / Benoit Tessier

(Reuters) - Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci was given a five-month, back-dated doping suspension but was considered not guilty of any “significant fault or negligence,” the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme said on Thursday.

Bellucci, who reached a career-high 21st in the world rankings in 2010 but has fallen to 112th, provided a urine sample at last July’s Swedish Open that contained hydrochlorothiazide, which can mask other substances.

The 30-year-old Brazilian, who said the positive test was the result of a contaminated vitamin supplement, refused to accept a voluntary provisional suspension and so was free to compete pending resolution of his case.

The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme said in a statement it accepted Bellucci’s account of how the banned substance got in his system.

It also said that his period of ineligibility was backdated due to the player’s prompt admission and for delays not attributable to him.

Bellucci can start competing again from Feb. 1, meaning he will miss the Jan. 15-28 Australian Open. Bellucci, who has never been beyond the second round at Melbourne Park, would have had to qualify for the tournament given his low ranking.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond

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