The Slovak Tennis Federation (STZ) on February 14 confirmed the two-year ban imposed on Slovak tennis player Karol Beck by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
Beck, 23, tested positive for the banned steroid clenbuterol during Slovakia's Davis Cup semi-final win over Argentina in September 2005, the TASR news wire wrote.
Slovakia defeated Argentine 4-1, with Beck winning both his singles and his doubles encounters, to go through to the final round against Croatia. While Beck's individual performances will be wiped out because of the doping result, Slovakia's victory stands.
The ban is valid even within Slovakia, announced STZ head Tibor Macko, who added that he still believes that Beck is innocent.
"We believe that Karol Beck didn't take the anabolic agent clenbuterol intentionally. The STZ will do everything it can to ensure that Beck returns to the game as soon as possible after the ban ends," the STZ said in a statement.
Beck, 85th in the ATP rankings, said he believed that an acquaintance spiked his drinks in a nightclub in Bratislava on the night of September 16, 2005, shortly before the doping test was carried out.
He denied having knowingly taken clenbuterol, and said he may have tested positive because he took his mother's medicine by mistake, the news wire wrote.
"This is not a doping scandal, because I have never taken drugs and I never will," Beck said, adding that he intends to appeal the ITF decision.
"Success cannot be forgiven in Slovakia. A certain person has hurt Slovak tennis, the Slovak Davis Cup team and, most of all, my son," added Beck's father, Karol Beck senior, who appeared alongside his son at the news conference.
Beck's family has already launched legal action against a person whose name has not been revealed. "A week before the Davis Cup final between Slovakia and Croatia, I met the head of the Slovak Information Service (SIS), Ladislav Pittner, to ask him what to do in this case," Beck told TASR.
Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
15. Feb 2006 at 10:38