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Hingis handed two-year suspension for doping

Hingis will not be returning to the courts anytime soon

(Reuters)

Switzerland's former world number one tennis player, Martina Hingis, has been served a two-year suspension after testing positive to cocaine at Wimbledon.

Hingis had announced the positive doping test and her retirement in November, although she strenuously denied ever taking the drug and proclaimed her innocence.

The International Tennis Federation said on Friday that an independent anti-doping tribunal had found her guilty of a doping offence after a two-day hearing in December.

The tribunal rejected suggestions that there could be any doubts about the identity or the integrity of the sample provided for testing.

It also rejected Hingis' plea of no fault or negligence. The tennis star's lawyers claimed that the drug had not entered the player's system.

The tribunal handed down the suspension in accordance with sanctions prescribed by the World Anti-Doping Code.

The 27-year-old is suspended for two years as of October 1, 2007, and her results from Wimbledon, where she reached the third round, and later tournaments are disqualified. This means she must forfeit any ranking points from that period and repay the prize money she earned during that time.

Claims of innocence

When she announced her retirement, Hingis called the accusations "horrendous" and "monstrous", adding that she had "no desire to spend the next seven years fighting doping officials".

The five-time grand slam champion insisted she was "100 per cent innocent" and that this was backed up by a negative result on a hair test, which can show whether or not someone has taken cocaine.

It was the second time that Hingis, one of the teenage stars of the game in the 1990s, said goodbye to the professional circuit. She first retired in 2003 due to persistent ankle injury problems, but returned to the circuit in 2006

She won three titles after her comeback, but never returned to the giddy heights she experienced as a teenager. Many specialists said that the game had progressed in her absence and that she lacked the fire to reach the top again.

Hingis took over the top spot in women's tennis in 1997 when she won three of the four grand slam titles, only missing out at the French Open.

She managed to remain number one for a total of 209 weeks. Only Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert have a better record.

Between 1997 and 1999 she won three Australian Opens, one US Open and a Wimbledon title.

swissinfo with agencies

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis was born on September 30, 1980. Her mother and father were both accomplished tennis players, ranked 10th and 19th best players in Czechoslovakia, respectively.

Hingis began hitting tennis balls when she was two and entered her first tournament at four.

In 1993, 12-year-old Hingis became the youngest player to win a grand slam junior title: the girls' singles at the French Open.

She made her professional debut in October 1994, two weeks after her 14th birthday. She became the youngest ever world number one in 1997, achieving the ranking at the age of 16 years and 182 days.

Between 1997 and 1999 she won five grand slam tournaments: the Australian Open three times (1997-1999), the US Open (1997) and Wimbledon (1997).

She retired from top-flight tennis in Feburary 2003 because of recurring foot injuries. However, after surgery and long recuperation, she embarked on a successful comeback in January 2006, winning her first major tournament in Rome in June 2006.

In August 2006 she returned to the top ten and climbed to world number 6. In 2007 she won a tournament in Tokyo but pulled out of several competitions due to injury.

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