While I was gone from blogging, Robert Kendrick had his hearing with the Sports Council in which he appealed the 12 month Ban set down by the ITF. The result was a reduction in his ban from 8 to 12 months. Although it was not the result he was looking for, Robert should be recognized for his bold stance and challenge of the ITF decision. Most folks would have taken the punishment and rolled over.
Unfortunately the substance he consumed is a banned substance, but the recognition that he did not take it for performance enhancement and his challenge of the stiff penalty laid down by the ITF is more then commendable. He made an innocent mistake, that was tantamount to a parking ticket in the real world and was punished for his actions on a level that transcends that of a person knowingly cheating by using using banned substances for performance enhancement.
I have to question what the ITF was trying to accomplish in this matter, beyond sending a startling message to the entire tennis world that even little mistakes will be severely punished, because they are the big bad ITF. I just don’t understand why Robert was the conduit for that message. I admire his backbone for not rolling over, speaking his mind and challenging a bad decision. The rest of the Tennis world should take notice and give him his due. He took the hit for all the other guys and girls who have been walking the edge of the “banned” substance cliff for some time now.
I commend his lawyer and friend Brent Nowicki, it was a difficult case at best, but he hung in there against a strong opponent and his team put on a strong case. In the end the Sports Council saw the merit in a reduction in the ban, but could not go all the way to time already served.
A lot of emotion here in what was a business decision to take on the ITF and attempt to preserve a spot in the US Open. While, it did not end up the winner they were looking for, they can hold their heads high that they spoke the truth and they were heard by the Council and the appeal was recognized and will be referred to in months and years to come.
I hope after the anger and bitterness passes that Robert will return to the tour and that he will be well supported.