London, Jan 22 (IANS) Reigning Wimbledon and US Open doubles champion Robert Farah has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for a prohibited substance, the International Tennis Federation has said.
"Robert Farah has been provisionally suspended ... pending determination of the charge against him at a full hearing pursuant to Article 8 of the (2019 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme)," the ITF said in a press release, reports Efe news
The announcement comes a week after Farah, a Canadian-born Colombian, released a statement on social media saying he believed he had ingested the banned drug Boldenone -- an anabolic steroid -- by eating contaminated meat.
That substance was found in a urine sample that the co-world No. 1 doubles player had provided in Cali, Colombia, in an out-of-competition test October 17, 2019, and which was analysed at a World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory in Montreal, Canada, the ITF said.
The governing body of world tennis and organiser of the four Grand Slam events said Tuesday that Farah was charged on January 11 with an anti-doping rule violation and handed a provisional suspension that took effect on Tuesday.
It said the doubles star can challenge the provisional suspension by applying to the Chair of the Independent Tribunal convened to hear his case but has opted thus far not to do so.
Farah said in a letter posted January 14 on social media that he had not knowingly broken the rules, noting that he had presented a clean sample just two weeks before the positive test and that no banned substances had been found in "at least 15 other random tests throughout the year."
"As the Colombian Olympic Committee said in 2018, this substance is frequently found in Colombian meat and may affect the results of athletes' tests. I'm sure this is what led to the outcome of the test in question," he said.
"I'm at peace and confident in the results of this process because throughout my life I've always acted with integrity and honesty," he added.
The 32-year Farah has teamed almost exclusively with countryman Juan Sebastian Cabal over the past decade, with the pair capturing two Grand Slam titles (the 2019 Wimbledon and 2019 US Open) and ascending to the No. 1 ranking last year.
Due to Farah's provisional suspension, the top-ranked Cabal is competing at the ongoing Australian Open with Spain's Jaume Munar.