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Fernando Test Positive And Disqualified

Fernando Verdasco poses with the trophy after defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov from Ukraine to win the tournament at Kooyong on January 16, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Scott Barbour.
Fernando Verdasco has protested his forced withdrawal from Roland Garros, having tested positive for coronavirus. The 36-year-old from Spain said in a statement that he had previously tested positive for the virus in August, but completed his isolation and had two negative tests before returning to training. 

He also said he had negative tests at both Rome and Hamburg prior to arriving in Paris in Tuesday, where he tested positive. "I explained my history to try and get another test especially seeing what had happened to other players in similar cases," said Verdasco in the statement. "Still I was disqualified.

"Roland Garros refused to do another test even taking into account all these circumstances and that there were enough days to repeat the tests before the competition and draw ceremony." Verdasco added that he had done another two tests upon return to Spain, and those were not positive either. The statement, shown in full below, revealed that:

—Verdasco contracted the virus in August,
—he was asymptomatic, 
—he tested negative multiple times since, including last week in Rome (where Verdasco lost to Damir Dzumhur—who was removed from Roland Garros qualifying after he was found to be in close contact with someone who tested positive—6-0, 6-2),
—he tested positive upon arrival in Paris on Tuesday,
—he since took three COVID-19 tests, with all results coming back negative,
—he was not allowed to test another test to determine if he could play Roland Garros.

The former Grand Slam semifinalist expressed "total frustration" with organizers, saying, "This could happen to any player and in my opinion we should at least be granted the chance to do new tests and avoid unfair disqualification."

It heightens the confusion already created this week when Benoit Paire, who tested positive and was withdrawn from the US Open, revealed he had again tested positive in Hamburg but was allowed to play the event. Subsequently, the tournament explained that Paire's testing numbers and history indicated he was no longer infectious.

The ATP sent a letter to players this week saying, "Experiencing different protocols at different events is unsettling," but, "As you are aware, the FFT protocol at Roland Garros is different from the one used at prior ATP events and does not take into account any medical history." Another six players were withdrawn from the Roland Garros qualifying tournament, including Dzumhur, whose coach, Petar Popovic, tested positive. 

Popovic also said he had previously had the virus and the strict protocols "hide the poor organization of the event," and, like Verdasco, called for repeated testing. "[Rafael] Nadal would have had the right to a second or third test," he told L'Equipe.

A tournament official told L'Equipe that the sample had been tested twice and been positive both times. He acknowledged that positive tests could be from prior infection but it had also not been established that this meant it was not possible to "transmit the virus or have it again." "Our protocol [was] decided in alignment with the ministry, and our scientific committee," he said.

The other players with were withdrawn, according to Marca, are Ernesto Escobedo, Denis Istomin, Bernabe Zapata Miralles, Pedja Krstin and Katarzyna Kawa. Players are given two rounds of testing before the start of the tournament, including a test before entering the grounds.

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