US tennis player sues WTA and ITF over injuries caused by doping tests

US tennis player sues WTA and ITF over injuries caused by doping tests
American tennis player Madison Brengle has begun legal proceedings against the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), claiming that obligatory doping tests caused her serious injuries.

The 28-year-old athlete suffers from a rare medical condition known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I, which is brought on by needle injections. She filed the lawsuit to a Florida court on Monday, seeking damages from the tennis organizations estimated to be in excess of $10 million.

Tennis authorities ignored evidence of her professionally diagnosed condition and refused to provide alternative testing or a medical accommodation, instead subjecting Brengle to testing that caused her to withdraw from tournaments and has now resulted in permanent swelling and weakness in her serving arm and hand,” Brengle’s attorney Peter Ginsberg said in a statement.

The world number 83 said that the harm she suffered stemmed from their “abusive administration of the anti-doping program,” and that the defendants’ “bullying behaviour” led to “permanent physical injury, emotional trauma, and pain.”

The complaint makes particular reference to John Snowball, a doping-control officer of the Swedish company that administers drug tests for the ITF, who conducted the blood-testing procedure at Wimbledon in 2016. The ITF's Stuart Miller was also noted as a defendant in the suit.

Brengle has been so severely harmed by defendants’ abusive conduct and medically inappropriate testing that she no longer is able to serve a tennis ball with her right arm at or near the same velocity that she has served throughout her 10-year professional career, her hands are swelled and the swelling has at times spread throughout her arms, and her overall game has suffered enormously from the physical and emotional consequences endured,” the complaint reads.

"Brengle no longer has normal strength in her arm and endures post-trauma injuries that cause both physical and emotional damage," it adds.

The lawsuit also states that the injuries Brengle received during anti-doping tests ahead of the 2016 US Open forced the player to pull out of the first-round match against 16-year-old American wild-card holder Kayla Day.

Brengle herself insists that she repeatedly informed the tennis governing bodies that the blood testing was causing her suffering, but her complaints were dismissed. The player says she was forced to skip tennis tournaments due to her reaction to the doping tests.

In a statement issued on Monday, Brengle said that she doesn’t dispute the anti-doping program, but urges tennis authorities to bring more attention to health of the players.

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“I am bringing this action in an effort to force those who control the sport I love to understand that players are not commodities and should be treated with respect and dignity,” Brengle said. “The unbridled authority of officials to subject players to the kind of abuse I suffered cannot be tolerated; players must have a say in matters involving our health and safety.”