World doubles No.1 Robert Farah has admitted he tested positive for a banned substance, hours after he pulled out of the Australian Open citing personal reasons.
The 32-year-old Colombian said the International Tennis Federation (ITF) informed him that he'd tested positive for Boldenona - an anabolic steroid - which he said was the result of eating meat in his home country.
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"I will not be able to play at the Australian Open, an event for which I had been preparing since December," Farah, who won last year's men's doubles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, wrote on Twitter.
"A few hours ago the ITF informed me of the presence of Boldenona in a test that I did on October 17, 2019 in Cali.
"Two weeks before the test mentioned... I did an anti-doping test in Shanghai which had a negative result. And I was also tested at least 15 other times randomly in the international circuit throughout the year with the same negative result.
"As stated by the Colombian Olympic Committee in 2018, this substance is found frequently in Colombian meat and may affect athletes' test results."
Farah confident of having ban overturned
Farah said he would consult his group of advisors and consider the next steps to prove he did not deliberately consume the banned substance.
"I am calm and confident in the results of this process since I have always acted correctly and honestly in my life," he added.
"I will work harder than ever to return to the courts in the shortest time possible."
Canada-born Farah, who along with long-time partner and fellow Colombian Juan Sebastian Cabal were the ATP's doubles team of the year in 2019, had already pulled out of this week's Adelaide International warm-up event.
A number of prominent tennis writers were left shocked by the news.
Two in one day... Robert Farah says he tested positive for Boldenone (by the ITF) and he is going to argue that it is regularly found in Colombian meat. https://t.co/fEPjROZE8C— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) January 14, 2020
Two positive tests of South American tennis players revealed in the last 12 hours or so.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 14, 2020
Nicolas Jarry followed by doubles #1 Robert Farah. https://t.co/3PmOqsah4U
I know I said I didn't expect Nicolas Jarry, but Robert Farah? What? https://t.co/Cgm7QqqkmY— Damian Kust (@LWOSdamiankust) January 14, 2020
When tennis players don't play the tournaments they're expected to it's a reasonable assumption they're serving a silent ban which is commonly used in tennis to protect it's reputation.— Campaign For Clean Sport (@SportCampaign) January 14, 2020
Robert Farah was reported as 'opting out' of the Australian Open 'for personal reasons.' https://t.co/F1nc7bzEK6
Doubles World No. 1 and Wimbledon, US Open reigning champion Robert Farah also tested positive in an anti-doping control.— Gaspar Ribeiro Lança (@gasparlanca) January 14, 2020
Dark day for tennis no matter what happens from now on...
A Tennis Australia spokeswoman told Reuters that Cabal, 33, was expected to remain in Melbourne and play in the doubles with another partner.
The Australian Open starts on Monday.