* Gasquet cleared of doping offence
* CAS accepts Gasquet was inadvertently contaminated
* Amount of cocaine metabolite was "minute"
(adds details, quotes)
BERNE, Dec 17 - French tennis player Richard
Gasquet, who tested positive for cocaine earlier this year, has
been cleared of any doping offence by the Court of Arbitration
for Sport (CAS).
"The player has been exonerated from any fault or negligence
and the CAS has dismissed the appeals filed by the ITF
(International Tennis Federation) and WADA (World Anti-Doping
Agency)," CAS said in a statement.
CAS said it accepted Gasquet's argument that the world
number 52 had been inadvertently contaminated after kissing a
woman in a Miami nightclub on the day before the test.
"The panel based its ruling on the evidence provided by the
experts called by both the player and the ITF, who agreed that
the amount of cocaine metabolite was so minute that it must have
reflected incidental exposure, rather than use in the amounts
commonly taken by social users of cocaine," said CAS.
"It was also established that the player was clearly not a
regular cocaine user, even in very small amounts. As a
consequence, the possibility of contamination became the most
plausible explanation justifying the presence of cocaine
metabolite in the player's urine.
"On a balance of probability, the CAS panel concluded that
it was more likely than not that the player's contamination with
cocaine resulted, as Gasquet always asserted, from kissing a
woman in a nightclub in Miami on the day before the anti-doping
test and that the player had met the required standards of proof
with respect to the way of ingestion.
"The parties' experts agreed that the minute amount of
cocaine could have been transferred in this manner. The
arbitrators added that it was impossible for the player, even
when exercising the utmost caution, to know that in kissing a
woman who he had met in a totally unsuspicious environment, he
could be contaminated with cocaine."
Gasquet, who served a two-month ban earlier this year after
the positive test, has always maintained his innocence.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Sonia Oxley; To query
or comment on this story: firstname.lastname@example.org)