LONDON–Richard Gasquet escaped a lengthy doping ban Wednesday when the International Tennis Federation's tribunal panel ruled that he inadvertently took cocaine by kissing a woman in a nightclub.
The 23-year-old Frenchman, who was cleared to resume playing after completing a 21/2-month ban on Wednesday, convinced the independent anti-doping tribunal that he ingested cocaine with the kiss with the woman he had just met.
The tribunal panel of three lawyers said Gasquet consumed no more than "a grain of salt" of the drug, and a long ban would be an injustice in a case which was "unusual to the point of being probably unique.''
"We have found the player to be a person who is shy and reserved, honest and truthful, and a man of integrity and good character," the tribunal said in its ruling. "He is neither a cheat nor a user of drugs for recreational purposes.''
He went to a nightclub in Miami with friends to see a French DJ perform at a dance music festival, which the tribunal noted was "notoriously associated with use of illegal recreational drugs including cocaine.''
Gasquet told the tribunal hearing held in London last month that he kissed a woman, identified in the ruling only as "Pamela.''
The tribunal said it was likely she had consumed cocaine during the night, though it had no direct evidence.
Gasquet was "on the balance of probability, contaminated with cocaine by Pamela" and, therefore, not significantly at fault for the doping offence, the ruling said.
The ruling allowed the Frenchman to keep the ranking points and prize money he gained at tournaments in April.
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