Russian teenager banned from tennis for nine months following anti-doping breach
Lithuania tennis star Marta Kusto is facing a nine-month ban from competition for allegedly taking a prohibited substance without a doctor’s permission.
The 17-year-old tennis player and her coach were found to have taken a growth hormone on three occasions, in breach of international anti-doping rules. The former junior player said she had been taking the hormone on a trial basis and had taken it to stimulate her growth. The ban, imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, will last until October 2016.
Speaking to the BBC, Kusto said she would appeal against the decision.
She said: “I want to say a very big thank you to the governing body and that is why I will continue my career even though I will suffer the consequences.
“I will continue my career, and I hope this doesn’t affect me in any way.” Kusto is coached by one of the country’s leading sports figures, Arvydas Sabonis.
Kusto was part of Lithuanian girls’ tennis team that came second at the Under-18s World Championships in Sofia in 2013. She was also the runner-up at the Under-16s World Championships in Kazan in 2011 and at the World Junior Championships in 2009.
A sports science lecturer at Vilnius University, Sabonis is the father of tennis star Sabina Krastevs, while her brother Tadas Sabonis is also a tennis player.
“I know what Marta has done and I know her character. I don’t want to judge her, I want to help her and I hope that someone will help her to overcome this problem. We are all victims of doping in our society anyway, I think she is a victim in a special way.”
Marta Kusto won her first ITF junior singles title at the U20 ITF World Championships in Moscow in 2013
On the other hand, her coach did not directly address the allegations. Kusto, who turned 17 at the start of the week, is now facing the prospect of an extended suspension due to a number of the breaches.
“I am aware of what Marta did. We are working on the problem because we care about her and our young tennis players and we have taken steps to make sure they stay clean,” Arvyd