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Australian Open ‘Shocker’
Wildfires ravaging the country and killing the wildlife in one hand, banned substances testing positive in tests in the other. The Australian Open has been anything but predictable.
Australian Open officials have been forced (again) to postpone the start of the qualifying matches as they wait for the smoke from the ongoing bushfires raging around the country to clear sufficiently. The first few matches of the second day of the tournament were pushed back until the afternoon, three hours later than the time it should have; practice was also suspended until late in the morning.
The conditions at Melbourne Park were forecasted to improve on late Wednesday. This announcement came after it disrupted the first day of the tournament, leading to organizers being heavily criticized for allowing matches to take place despite the dire conditions. A few players were affected by it, including Slovenia's Dalila Jakupovic and Australia’s own Bernard Tomic.
Jakupovic, the world’s no. 180 in tennis, was forced to retire mid-match because of the smoke coming from the bushfire. ‘I was really scared that I would collapse. That's why I went onto the floor because I couldn't walk anymore’, she said. ‘The physio came again and I thought it would be better. But the points were a bit longer and I just couldn't breathe anymore and I just fell on the floor’.
She also said that she was experiencing chest pains during practice. ‘It's not healthy for us. I was surprised, I thought we would not be playing today but we don't have much choice’.
As if the wildfires weren’t enough to affect the Australian Open, Robert Farah, the world’s no. 1 doubles player, recently withdrew from the tournament while announcing that she had tested positive for boldenone, a banned substance. She was informed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) on this after her anti-doping test back in October.
‘I want to tell everyone about a situation that is making me live one of the saddest moments of my life and my sports career’, she tweeted in Spanish. ‘I will not be able to compete in the Australian Open, an hour ago the ITF informed me of the presence of the prohibited substance Boldenone in a test tube which was carried out on October 17th in Cali’.
‘This substance is frequently found in Colombian meat and can distort the results of doping tests. This is certainly the reason that provoked this positive result. We are investigating and want to show that I have never used products that go against clean play and ethics. I am calm and confident of the results of this process’.
Similarly, rank 78th Nicolas Jarry was suspended for doping. The 24-year-old Chilean tennis player (who was ranked in the top 40 in singles back in July) is awaiting a full hearing. In his Instagram post, the player denied that he purposely and knowingly ingested them. He also said that the levels that were found were ‘incredibly low’ and wasn’t enough to give him a ‘performance-enhancing benefit’. Jarry intends to cooperate with the ITF while his legal team plans to test the vitamins that were produced in Brazil.
Jarry has the right to contest the provisional suspension, but according to the ITF, he hasn’t done so yet. He reached a career-high ranking of 38 in singles back in July. He also has one singles title and two doubles titles under his belt. He reached the quarterfinals in doubles at the 2018 French Open and U.S. Open.
Words: Carlos Corpus