Tennis star Sara Errani has been banned for two months after failing a doping test, although the Italian is adamant she did not knowingly take a banned substance.
Errani, a former top five player and French Open finalist, tested positive for letrozole in an out-of-competition test on February 16.%u200B
After reviewing the evidence, an independent tribunal decided she had likely ingested a prohibited substance through accidental food contamination.
During a personal hearing which she requested, Errani's legal team argued that she ingested the prohibited substance – believed to be in her mother's anti-cancer medication 'Femara' – inadvertently while staying with her parents.
The tribunal accepted this explanation, but did not agree that Errani was not negligent.
Because of the mitigating circumstances, however, she received only a two-month suspension, which commenced on August 3.
Meanwhile, all of Errani's results and prize money from February 16 to June 7 have been nullified.
In a lengthy statement posted on social media, Errani said she was 'very frustrated' and 'extremely disappointed' at being implicated as a doper.
— Sara Errani (@SaraErrani) August 7, 2017
"I never took, in my life and during my career, any prohibited substance," said the 30-year-old.
"However, this substance is present in Femara, a medicine my mother has been using daily since 2012 for therapeutic purpose, further to a surgery for breast cancer, and therefore is present in the house where I am currently living.
"This medicinal drug is very dangerous, if used by a healthy female not in menopause yet. At the same time, no one has ever demonstrated any beneficial effects in female athletes' performances.
"Together with my family we have tried to understand how this contamination could have happened, because I am 100% certain I haven't taken a pill by mistake.
"The only viable option has been that an accidental food contamination occurred at some stage in the house. This option has been supported by a further hair test, which I voluntary underwent."
On the independent tribunal's ruling, Errani added: "I feel very frustrated, but I can only try to stand still and wait for this period to finish.
"I am extremely disappointed but – at the same time – at peace with my conscience and aware I haven't done anything wrong, neither have I committed any negligence against [the] anti-doping program."