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Karatantcheva is banned over drugs

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Bulgarian teen Karatantcheva must serve a two-year drugs suspension

PARIS, France -- Bulgarian teenager Sesil Karatantcheva has been banned for two years after testing positive at the 2005 French Open tennis for the steroid nandrolone.

The 16-year-old, who was a highest ranked 39 last year, proved positive on May 31 in Paris, and again in an out-of-competition test in Tokyo on July 5.

"The tribunal determined that a prohibited substance (nandrolone) had been present in a concentration above the reporting threshold in both the May and July samples," the ITF said.

The tribunal rejected the player's defense, but determined that the two occasions would be treated as one single first offense for sanctioning purposes.

It automatically disqualified Karatantcheva's results at the French Open where she reached the quarterfinals, requiring forfeiture of entry ranking points and prize money (110,370 euros).

The teen also loses entry ranking points and prize money ($128,897) from all competitions subsequent to last year's French Open.

"The tribunal declares that the player shall be ineligible for a period of two years commencing January 1, 2006."

The French sports daily L'Equipe correctly reported the scandal last month.

The newspaper claimed the player explained her failed test on being pregnant at the time -- pregnant women produce more nandrolone -- and Karatantcheva said she then had a miscarriage.

Negative result

But a laboratory at Chatenay Malabry in France carried out a pregnancy test on the player's urine sample which returned a negative result, the paper said.

Karatantcheva was uprooted from Sofia to Florida when she was 12 to learn her tennis and beat Venus Williams, seeded 11th at last year's French Open, 6-3 1-6 6-1 when she was still 15.

The Bulgarian, who speaks with a distinct American southern drawl, won the French Open junior title in 2004.

Karatantcheva endured a mixed year of results following her French Open breakthrough.

She was knocked out of Wimbledon in the second round by Maria Sharapova -- a fellow graduate from Nick Bolletieri's famed Florida tennis academy -- before going on to make the quarter--finals at San Diego.

A second round defeat by Amelie Mauresmo at the US Open was followed by failure to get beyond the round of 16 in her remaining five tournaments of the year.

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