Tennis players hailed the ruling yesterday against Petr Korda that strengthened the sport's anti-doping program, although they took no pleasure in Korda's stiff punishment.
Korda, the 1998 Australian Open champion, lost an arbitration ruling in Lausanne, Switzerland, and was ordered to forfeit all prize money since July 1998 -- $661,831 -- for testing positive for the steroid Nandrolone at Wimbledon last year.
The ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport ended a protracted legal battle between Korda and the International Tennis Federation.
The 31-year-old Czech also received a one-year ban, until Aug. 31, 2000, and lost computer ranking points accumulated since the 1998 Wimbledon. But that part of the punishment won't mean much to Korda, who retired in July after failing to gain wild-card entry into Wimbledon and losing in the qualifying round.
"The ITF and its partners in the joint anti-doping program -- the ATP Tour and the WTA Tour -- are pleased that the intent of the anti-doping program regulations has been upheld," Deborah Jevans, the ITF executive director of medicine, said.
Mark Miles, head of the ATP Tour, said the case supported the tour's efforts "to create the strongest anti-doping program possible."
Todd Martin, president of the ATP Player Council, said the language of the rules has been "very hazy," and will be changed now that the Korda case is over.
"It's just a matter of upholding the integrity of the sport and the integrity of our program," Martin said. "It's disappointing for Petr. That's no way to finish your career. Despite the fact that he somehow allowed the substance into his body, I think everybody should have a little compassion."
Lindsay Davenport, a member of the WTA Tour board of directors, praised the ruling.
"If you test positive, you test positive," she said. "He never came out and said why he thought it had gone into his system. It was always kind of a really gray area.
"I think it should be one of the toughest things we have on the tour, the anti-doping. I don't think it's fair when people do that. You just can't say, `I didn't take it,' and get off."