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Russian US Open Champion Failed Drug Test in Belgium

Belgium's sports minister says women's U.S. Open tennis champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia tested positive for ephedrine during an exhibition match in Charleroi last month. Ephedrine is a stimulant but is commonly found in cold medicine.

Claude Eerdekens said Monday the world No. 5 Kuznetsova failed the test on December 19. He added that confirmation of the findings had been sent last Friday to the player's address in Spain, as well as to the Belgian prosecutors' office and the Belgian and Russian tennis federations. The test was not commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency or tennis' governing body.

The confirmation came hours after Kuznetsova, who advanced to the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne, said she was mystified by reports that she could have failed a doping test. She denied using performance-enhancing drugs to improve her game.

Eerdekens conceded that she might have taken a medicine that contained the banned substance. He also said that "Kuznetsova remains innocent until proved guilty" and can ask to be tested again.

The statement did not say whether Kuznetsova, who was suffering from a cold during the tournament, had a valid medical exemption for the medicine. Eerdekens made the announcemet before the Russian's "B" sample was tested.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.