Former Australian Open champ cops huge ban over doping scandal

Abigail Spears (L) with Juan Sebastian Cabal after winning the 2017 Australian Open mixed doubles crown. (Image: GREG WOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

American tennis player Abigail Spears was handed a 22-month doping ban on Wednesday after a positive test from last year's US Open.

The 38-year-old Spears has won 21 women's doubles titles during her career and won the mixed doubles title at the Australian Open in 2017.

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Her urine sample was found to have contained two prohibited substances, prasterone and testosterone, the International Tennis Federation said.

Spears was charged and provisionally suspended on November 7.

The ITF accepted her explanation that her use of the substances was unconnected to sports performance, but said “her fault was deemed to be high.”

The ban was backdated to start on the day Spears was provisionally suspended.

It ends at midnight on September 6, 2021.

Nadiia Kichenok and Abigail Spears at the Wuhan Open in September. (Photo by Zhe Ji/Getty Images)

Speares takes full responsibility

Spears previously claimed she was “unwell” and was told she had “vitamin deficiencies”, which prompted the doubles champion to take “packaged supplements” upon the doctor’s recommendation.

“I was so anxious to get better as soon as possible that I didn’t check the label closely enough and was recently informed by the ITF that one of the supplements I was taking contained a prohibited substance. I immediately contacted the ITF and am fully cooperating with them,” she wrote in November.

“For once in my career, I did not adequately go through the right steps and didn’t check with WADA or the WTA on whether the supplements were clean,” she added.

“While I was devastated to learn about making such a huge mistake, I hope that other players, especially up and coming ones, learn from this and check every single substance that they put in their body.

“I take full responsibility for my actions and very much regret not checking the label closely enough to ensure what I was taking was clean.”

with agencies