- Sport: Tennis
- Issue: Arbitration
- Type: Anti-Doping
- Tribunal: Clifford Hendel, Lucy Martinez, Professor Dorian Haskard
- Decision date: 30 October 2023
- Outcome: 4 years ineligibility
A decision in the case of International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) against Stefano Battaglino has been issued by the Independent Panel.
On 7 March 2023, the ITIA issued Mr Battaglino, a 25-year-old Italian tennis player, with a Notice of Charge for committing Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) for the Presence and Use of a Prohibited Substance on the basis that Clostebol metabolites were found to be present in an In-Competition urine Sample, collected on 14 September 2022 at the WTT M15 event held in Casablanca, Morocco. Clostebol is an anabolic androgenic steroid and is prohibited at all times under Section S1 of the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. Mr Battaglino has been provisionally suspended since 1 February 2023.
The Independent Tribunal, comprised of Mr Clifford Hendel (Chair), Ms Lucy Martinez, and Professor Dorian Haskard, was appointed to hear this matter.
Whilst not disputing that Clostebol metabolites were found in his Sample, Mr Battaglino argued that there had been no intention to commit the ADRV. He maintained that the origin of the Clostebol was the cream or lotion applied to his left arm by the attending tournament physiotherapist during the medical time-out in that day’s match, that there were only trace levels of Clostebol metabolites in his urine, and that an In-Competition urine sample had been provided 21 days earlier, in which no Prohibited Substance had been found. He therefore requested that the period of Ineligibility to be imposed on him as a consequence of the ADRVs should be reduced or eliminated entirely, on the basis that the violation involved either No Fault or Negligence or No Significant Fault or Negligence under TADP Articles 10.5 and 10.6, respectively.
Taking into account repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact the tournament physiotherapist, the Independent Tribunal determined that Mr Battaglino had not established how Clostebol came to be in his system, so his attempts to benefit from Articles 10.5 (potentially eliminating sanctions) and 10.6 (reducing sanctions) were unsuccessful. Having also considered whether this case may be regarded as a rare case, by which a recent prior negative test result would be deemed sufficient, in light of the relevant excretion period, to exclude a doping scenario and therefore rebut the presumption of intentionality without proving source, the medical experts agreed that neither doping nor inadvertent contamination could be ruled out, given that contamination via the treatment to Mr Battaglino’s arm was no more than one possibility, among others. The scientific and factual evidence present in this case was therefore not sufficient to consider that the presumption of intentionality has been rebutted in the absence of proof of source.
On application of the TADP, the Independent Tribunal concluded that Clostebol metabolites were present in Mr Battaglino’s urine Sample collected In-Competition on 14 September 2022; Mr. Battaglino did not meet his burden to demonstrate that his violations were not intentional within the meaning of TADP Article 10.2.3, and therefore, a period of Ineligibility of four years was imposed, starting from the date of the decision, 30 October 2023, until midnight of 31 January 2027, with credit granted for the Provisional Suspension in effect from 1 February 2023. Any results obtained at the WTT M15 Casablanca 2022 tournament and any results from subsequent events were disqualified.
Sport Resolutions is the independent secretariat to the International Tennis Integrity Agency’s Independent Panel.
A copy of the full decision can be accessed via the related links tab on the right-hand side.