CZECH tennis player Barbora Zahlavova Strycova has been given a six-month ban for a doping offence, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced last night.
Zahlavova Strycova, ranked 124 in the world, tested positive for the stimulant sibutramine last October. The 26-year-old denied any intent to enhance her performance and said the stimulant had got into her system through her use of a dietary supplement.
“She is suspended from participation for a period of six months, back-dated to commence from 16 October 2012,” the ITF said in a statement.
“The ITF did not dispute Ms Zahlavova Strycova’s account of the circumstances surrounding her ingestion of sibutramine.”
Zahlavova Strycova’s results from the Luxembourg Open and the ITF Bueschl Open will be disqualified and she will forfeit the ranking points and prize money she won at those events.
Meanwhile, World No 1 Victoria Azarenka and second-ranked Serena Williams eased into the Qatar Open quarter-finals with dominant third-round victories yesterday. American Williams, who has 15 grand slam titles and could return to the top of the rankings if she wins the tournament, crushed Poland’s Urszula Radwanska 6-0, 6-3. Azarenka, of Belarus, who won last month’s Australian Open, thrashed Christina McHale of the US 6-0, 6-0.
“I came out very focused, with a good mindset and a good gameplan,” said Azarenka.
Russian third seed Maria Sharapova beat Czech Klara Zakopalova 6-3 6-3 and fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska beat former world No 1 Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 7-6 and will next face Caroline Wozniacki, another former world No 1, who defeated German Mona Barthel 7-6, 6-3.
“It wasn’t great tennis out there – the wind was a huge factor,” said Wozniacki.
Australian Sam Stosur reached the last eight with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova and sixth seed Sara Errani knocked out Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova 7-5. 5-7. 6-2.
Czech Petra Kvitova, meanwhile completed the quarter-final lineup after recovering from a slow start to overcome Russian Nadia Petrova in three sets 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.