Earlier this week, Italian newspapers had reported that former French Open finalist, Sara Errani had failed a doping test. Errani had tested positive for letrozole, a drug often prescribed for the treatment of breast cancer, but is also associated with the promotion of muscle tissue in female bodybuilders. The tests were carried out in February at her parents’ home in Italy.
However, following the developments, Errani blamed her mother’s pasta cooking techniques, and went on to prove that her food could’ve been contaminated by conducting a series of scientific experiments.
Errani argued that the letrozole in question was part of her mother’s treatment regime. Mrs Errani – who has suffered multiple incidences of cancer in the past – kept the chemical in a blister pack of pills, which she would leave to the side of her kitchen worktop. According to the evidence given to the ITF tribunal by the former World No. 5, there might have been a case of unintentional contamination when a pill fell into the “tortellini or broth which she prepared on 14th or 15th Feb”.
Once they learned of the failed drug test, Errani and her husband carried out multiple personal experiments to see if a pill of letrozole could actually dissolve in food and be undetectable. They claimed that the pills not only dissolved in the broth but also dissolved in the meat mixture that is used to make the tortellini.
Ultimately, the ITF tribunal has accepted the pasta argument ruling that “it was more likely than not that letrozole entered the player’s body by means of her mother’s medication”. As a result, Errani received a rather light ban of 2 months, which started last week and will end in October. She will also lose all ranking points and prize money between February 16 and June 7, the date of her next dope test which had incidentally come clean.