Lepchenko’s doping ban trimmed to 21 months

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Former top-20 tennis player and U.S. Olympian Varvara Lepchenko’s doping suspension for use of a banned stimulant was reduced from four years to 21 months as part of an agreement with the International Tennis Federation after she appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The settlement agreement was signed in October, approved by CAS on Tuesday and made public by the ITF on Friday. The World Anti-Doping Agency signed off on it, too.

Lepchenko’s urine sample after a first-round loss at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July 2021 contained the stimulant. She then competed at three other events — including winning a title in Charleston, South Carolina — before being provisionally banned for four years, backdated to August 2021.

Her appeal to CAS was based on her later finding, in a travel bag, a bottle of capsules that was determined to contain the substance for which she tested positive — an ingredient that was not listed on the bottle label.

According to the ITF’s news release on Friday, Lepchenko and the ITF agreed that she committed a violation, that she will be ineligible to compete for 21 months, and that her penalty will run from August 2021 — the time of her most recent match — and expire this May.

This marked her second doping violation, but the ITF punished her as though it were her first because she was ruled to be not at fault in the earlier case, which involved testing positive in 2016 for meldonium, the heart medication that led to Maria Sharapova’s doping ban.

Lepchenko, 36, has represented the United States at the Olympics and in the Billie Jean King Cup.

She has earned more than $5 million in prize money and reached a career-high WTA ranking of No. 19 in 2012. That was the year she made it to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time at the French Open, beating 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone there. Lepchenko reached the fourth round at the US Open in 2015.

Lepchenko was born in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, later moving with her father and sister to Florida. She was granted political asylum, began living in Pennsylvania in 2003, and became a U.S. citizen in 2011.

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