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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

Tennis Star Loses Big after Straying from Asthma Guidelines

Published January 21, 2009 12:00 PM by Colleen Mullarkey

When clinicians don't follow the asthma guidelines, patients usually end up paying the price. But in Filippo Volandri's case, he's literally paying the price - $166,000 in fact - for not following the guidelines as an asthma patient, Sky Sports reported.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) handed the Italian tennis star a three-month doping ban after determining the 27-year-old's use of salbutamol was "beyond therapeutic needs." The decision was based on a sample Volandri provided last March at the ATP tour event in India Wells, Calif.

Volandri blamed the failed test on his inhaler, insisting he had a medical exemption certificate to use Ventolin, which contains salbutamol. In response, the ITF issued a statement saying it believed he had not taken the salbutamol with the intent of enhancing his performance, but rather to treat his asthma.

In defense of its decision, the ITF added, "However, it found that his (exemption certificate) only permitted him to use asthma medication in line with generally accepted asthma treatment guidelines, and that the amount of salbutamol he inhaled was not consistent with such use, and so could not be said to be proper therapeutic use."

The ban, enforced on Jan. 15, will not end until April 14, forcing Volandri to miss the Australian Open. In addition, the ITF has decided to void his results from March 13, 2008 onward, taking back the points earned during that time and $166,000 he won in prize money.

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