Brooksby accepts provisional ban, denies doping

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American tennis player Jenson Brooksby accepted a provisional suspension from the International Tennis Integrity Agency on Wednesday after being accused of missing three doping tests in a 12-month period, he told The Associated Press.

“Taking the provisional suspension is the best decision that we have to make right now,” Brooksby, a 22-year-old from Sacramento, California, said in a telephone interview. “I’ve never failed a drug test. I’ve never taken any bad substances.”

He plans to go to arbitration with the ITIA, which oversees doping cases in tennis.

Under antidoping rules, athletes can be penalized without a positive test if they have three “whereabout failures” within a year’s span.

“‘Whereabouts’ is a pretty tough requirement for them, with how much they’re traveling,” said Howard Jacobs, a lawyer working with Brooksby. “There’s no allegations he took any banned substances and we’re confident about” the case’s outcome.

Jacobs said he expects there to be an arbitration hearing for Brooksby in the next few months.

Jacobs also represents Simona Halep, the two-time Grand Slam champion who recently had a hearing related to charges the ITIA brought against her after she failed a drug test at last year’s US Open.

Brooksby has been ranked as high as No. 33 and is currently at No. 101 after going nearly six months without competing because he needed two operations for dislocated wrist tendons: on his left arm in March, and on his right in May.

He has not played on tour since January, when he upset three-time Grand Slam runner-up Casper Ruud in the second round of the Australian Open before losing to eventual semifinalist Tommy Paul in the third.

Shortly after that tournament, Brooksby split from his longtime coach, Joseph Gilbert.

“Since Australia, it’s, for sure, been the toughest part of my life, having to deal with so many different issues. The wrists were a struggle. Then at the same time, leaving my coach who I had been with since I was 7 years old. But professionally and personally, that was the right thing to do,” he said. “And there is also the doping thing, all within this period. Personal issues, too. I’m really just looking forward to being back on the court and the tour and putting all of it behind me.”

The best run for Brooksby at a major tournament was getting to the fourth round at the 2021 US Open. That’s when he went up against Novak Djokovic — and took a set off of him — but bowed out 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

“The provisional suspension is not an admission that I have done anything wrong; to the contrary, I have denied this charge and am waiting for an arbitration with an independent tribunal. The protocols of the anti-doping program are in place to protect the integrity of our sport, and I respect and support these protocols,” Brooksby wrote in a news release sent to the AP by his adviser, Amrit Narasimhan.

The statement adds that “one of the alleged missed tests” happened in June 2022 two days before the start of an ATP tournament in the Netherlands, and Brooksby writes that he “was at the official tournament hotel where I said I would be, and in my hotel room, and the time that I had said I would be there.”

“It’s frustrating,” Brooksby said in the interview with the AP. “I’m looking forward to giving them all of the evidence.”

Narasimhan said Brooksby received a letter on June 7 from the ITIA, which oversees doping cases in tennis, notifying him of a potential rule violation.

“We knew all along that we would probably have to go to arbitration to get this dismissed,” Narasimhan said. “Brooksby has not had a soda in five years. … That’s how clean this guy is.”

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