ROME (Reuters) - Italian player Sara Errani has been suspended for two months after a hearing concluded she accidentally took her mother's medication for breast cancer, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) confirmed on Monday.
The 30-year-old former French Open finalist was subjected to an out-of-competition test in February while staying with her parents and her urine sample was found to contain letrozole - a substance used in the treatment of breast cancer.
Letrozole is on the banned drug list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) which describes it as an aromatase inhibitor that can act as a hormonal and metabolic stimulant.
An ITF statement said Errani was charged with an anti-doping violation on April 18 and had promptly asked for a hearing before an Independent Tribunal.
Former world No. 5 Errani, now ranked 98th, will be ineligible until midnight on Oct 2 and her results between Feb 16 and June 7 will be disqualified, resulting in the forfeiture of ranking points and prize money in that period.
The Tribunal heard that Errani's mother Flavia has been battling cancer since 2005 and was using a drug named Femara - a brand name for letrozole - after several relapses.
In evidence from Errani's mum, which the Tribunal found "entirely truthful" she says she believed one of her tablets from a blister pack kept near the kitchen worktop, had accidentally fallen and contaminated some soup and tortellini she was preparing.
Following their daughter's failed test her parents even carried out their own experiment to discover whether a tablet could have dissolved into broth, and found that it did.
After hearing the evidence the Tribunal concluded that the scientific evidence was inconclusive in respect of the frequency, quantity and circumstances of the ingestion of letrozole by Errani, but agreed that there was "no significant fault or negligence" on her part.
In such cases bans of between 0 and 24 months are required.
"The Tribunal takes into account the circumstances involved in this case and that the player has not only an unblemished record but has demonstrated, through her evidence which we accept, having been otherwise meticulous in taking precautions to ensure that she acted in compliance with the TADP (tennis anti doping programme)," it said.
"As a result of the findings that the Tribunal has made, it concludes that the degree of fault is at the lowest end of the scale."
Errani said in a statement posted on her Twitter account: "I can only stand still and wait for this period to come to an end. I am extremely disappointed - but at the same time - at peace with my conscience and aware I haven't done anything wrong."
The Tribunal heard that letrozole had been known to be used by bodybuilders to increase lean muscle mass.
Errani is the second high-profile women's player to serve an anti-doping ban in the past two years after former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova, who beat Errani in the 2012 French Open final, returned this year after a 15-month ban for using meldonium after it had been added to the Wada banned list.