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Belgian court clears Yanina Wickmayer & Xavier Malisse

Belgian duo Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse
Wickmayer (left) and Malisse are embroiled in a complex legal battle

Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse have had their bans suspended by a Belgian court.

The pair were given one-year bans by the Flemish anti-doping tribunal in November after failing to report their whereabouts on a number of occasions.

Wickmayer's lawyers are hopeful that a Belgian court's decision to suspend the bans means the US Open semi-finalist can resume her playing career.

However, the International Tennis Federation were unable to comment.

The ITF imposed the Flemish anti-doping tribunal's ban worldwide.

Wickmayer was suspended for failing to report her whereabouts three times, while Malisse, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist, twice failed to report his whereabouts and on a third occasion, was unavailable for testing at the address he had submitted.

The ITF took its decision based on a ruling that now cannot be enforced

Yanina Wickmayer's lawyer

Under the World Anti-Doping Agency's (Wada) controversial new rules, elite athletes must make themselves available for out-of-competition testing for one hour a day, 365 days a year.

The Belgian pair have also appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), and are expected to hear a verdict in the next three months.

In a further twist, Wada has also appealed to Cas because it believes the pair should have been given two-year suspensions.

Wickmayer's lawyers, meanwhile, are preparing to challenge the 'whereabouts rule' in the European Commission in Brussels and the European Court of Human Rights.

Kristof De Saedeleer, one of Wickmayer's lawyers, believes it is "logical" that the 20-year-old should be eligible to play immediately following the suspension of the ban by the Court of First Instance in Brussels.

"The ITF took its decision based on a ruling that now cannot be enforced," he said.

Wickmayer's agent Rudi Kuyl added: "The ruling is complex but the bottom line is that the ban is suspended."

If Wickmayer is able to resume playing, she has been offered a wildcard entry into the ASB Classic, a WTA tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, which runs from 4 to 9 January.

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see also
Wickmayer handed missed tests ban
06 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Doping rules too strict - Nadal
10 Nov 09 |  Tennis
Gasquet awaits doping ban verdict
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Nadal shocked by Agassi cover-up
29 Oct 09 |  Tennis
Agassi admits use of crystal meth
28 Oct 09 |  Tennis
Wada stands defiant in doping row
17 Feb 09 |  Sport Homepage
Wada hits back in doping rule row
06 Feb 09 |  Olympics
Anger grows over anti-doping code
04 Feb 09 |  Sport Homepage
Legal threat to anti-doping code
22 Jan 09 |  Sport Homepage
Do dope tests breach human rights?
22 Jan 09 |  Today

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