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Friday, January 29, 1999 Published at 19:51 GMT

Sport: Tennis

Korda escapes ban

Court decision means Korda plays on

Petr Korda has escaped suspension over his positive drugs test.

"Petr Korda was lucky to escape a ban" (BBC Radio 4)
The Czech won a court ruling against the International Tennis Federation at London's High Court.

It ruled that the ITF was not entitled to appeal against its own decision not to ban Korda after he tested positive for steroids at Wimbledon.

The ITF said it may appeal against the decision, which means the federation cannot take Korda to the Court of Arbitration.

Debbie Jeavons from the International Tennis Federation: "We feel our decision has been misapplied"
The 1998 Australian Open champion tested positive for the steroid nandrolene at last year's Wimbledon championships.

Last month, an independent appeal committee appointed by the ITF said the world No 21 was guilty of a doping offence. but decided he should not be banned.

The panel cited "exceptional circumstances" because the 31-year-old did not know how the banned drug got into his system.

Leading players and sports organizations were dismayed by the ruling which the ITF wanted to reverse by appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

One year ban

The federation's own rules suggest a one-year ban for using steroids.

Korda's lawyer, Charles Flint, said the ITF, under its own anti-doping program, had no right in law to appeal against the decision, which was "final and binding" on both sides.

Flint said the ITF's own anti-doping program "is designed to provide for speedy and final determination of disputes as to allegations of doping before an independent expert committee."

The code had worked exactly as it was supposed to do, he added.

The ITF claimed that the decision was only final if there was no appeal.

The federation said it had an "unfettered right" to reopen and re-argue any decision at a full re-hearing in Lausanne, as did any player.

But the judge, Mr Justice Lightman said that there was nothing to say that within the ITF programme.

He said it was difficult to believe that a second full scale appeal was intended or that any player should be subject to "double jeopardy" in a court of law.

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