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Wheelchair tennis star Sithole gets two-year ban for missed dope tests

In a statement the ITF said that South African Sithole, 32, had failed to inform the governing body of his whereabouts three times in a 12-month period, breaking the sport's anti-doping rules.

FILE: South African quadriplegic tennis star Lucas Sithole. Picture: Facebook.com

LONDON - Two-time wheelchair tennis grand slam champion Lucas Sithole has been banned from the sport for two years after failing to make himself available for doping tests, the International Tennis Federation announced on Wednesday.

In a statement the ITF said that South African Sithole, 32, had failed to inform the governing body of his whereabouts three times in a 12-month period, breaking the sport's anti-doping rules.

"Mr. Sithole admitted to the violation and provided an explanation for each of the three 'Missed Tests'," the ITF said, adding that it "could not accept those explanations without corroborating evidence, which was not provided".

The ITF said that Sithole's ban begins as of 30 September last year, when he last competed by winning the doubles and singles tournaments at the South Africa Spring Open in Johannesburg.

It added that Sithole's results from between 25 June and 30 September have not been disqualified as "there is no suggestion that his results during that period were affected by any doping practice".

Sithole won the 2016 Australian Open in doubles and the US Open singles championship in 2013. He competes in the Quad division of wheelchair tennis, which is for players with impairments to both upper and lower limbs.

He is currently ranked ninth in the world in doubles with further wins last year at the British Open and the Open d'Amiens and number eight in the singles game after also winning the Belgian and Swiss Opens in 2019.

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