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Banned tennis star Dayana Yastremska has caused a stir after being pictured on a Tennis Australia (TA) chartered flight to Melbourne for the Australian Open.
The controversial young tennis star has been provisionally suspended after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found a banned substance in an out-of-competition urine sample, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said last week.
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Yastremska, 20, who has been involved in a number of high-profile incidents on and off the court in her short career, provided the sample in November and a WADA lab in Montreal found the presence of mesterolone metabolite, an anabolic agent on its Prohibited List.
While Yastremska has denied committing any offence, she is yet to challenge the suspension.
But in a twist, Svetlana Kuznetsova posted an Instagram post of the Ukrainian dancing before take-off.
To make matters worse, the clip showed not everyone was wearing masks, at the time of the video, on the flight to Australia.
Former CEO of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, Richard Ings, tweeted his confusion and asked the Australian governing body why Yastremska was on a charted flight to Melbourne.
He claimed suspended players are not allowed to take part in any activity organised by a tournament.
"I would consider an AO funded flight to a tournament to be an "activity" organised by the tournament," Ings tweeted, along with WADA's Rule 10.14.1 "Status during Ineligibility or Provisional Suspension.
"So perhaps someone can explain to me why Ms Yastremska is on a Tennis Australia funded charter flight to Australia for the Australian Open?"
His confusion was shared within the tennis community.
Many fans were unaware why Yastremska was travelling to Australia when she was suspended.
Sport journalist Jannik Schneider claimed if she challenged her suspension, and it was successfully lifted, she would be eligible to play in the Australian Open.
Yastremska denies drug use
Yastremska was quick to deny any drug use after her provisional suspension and said she was “under shock”.
"I have never used any performance-enhancing drugs or any prohibited substances," the 21-year-old posted on Twitter.
"I am astonished and under shock, particularly given that two weeks prior to this test, I tested negative at the WTA event in Linz."
The second-youngest woman in the world's top 30 remains on the Open entry list but, technically, should not even be accredited.
Yastremska was among almost 1300 players and support crew on chartered flights heading to Australia, where they face 14 days of quarantine ahead of the Open's delayed start date of February 8.
TA said it was investigating Yastremska's case.
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