ITF appeals to world court

LONDON -- The International Tennis Federation has appealed a doping ruling that essentially cleared tennis player Richard Gasquet, who was said to have inadvertently taken cocaine by kissing a woman in a nightclub.

The ITF said Thursday it was appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after an independent tribunal's decision last month exonerated Gasquet for a positive cocaine test. The Frenchman, who missed the French Open and Wimbledon, was allowed to resume playing after completing a 2½-month retroactive ban in mid-July.

The ITF had sought a two-year ban under the terms of the World Anti-Doping Agency's code.

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.

"Richard Gasquet has noted the appeal by the ITF and is convinced the Court of Arbitration for Sport will confirm he did not deliberately take cocaine," his agent, Nicolas Lamperin, said in a statement.

Gasquet tested positive for cocaine in a urine sample in March after he withdrew with a shoulder injury from the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Gasquet later went to a nightclub in Miami with friends, and told the tribunal panel that he kissed a woman. The tribunal said it was likely that the woman -- identified only as "Pamela" -- had consumed cocaine during the night, though it had no direct evidence.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis also tested positive for cocaine after losing at Wimbledon in 2007 and was banned for two years. Hingis denied taking the drug but did not appeal the ruling. She announced her retirement when the test result was revealed in November 2007. She is eligible to resume her career after the ban ends on Sept. 30, her 29th birthday.

Gasquet won his first matches on the ATP tour at age 15, and his ranking peaked at No. 7 after reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2007, when he lost to Roger Federer.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.