(CN) – A professional tennis player claims in Florida state court that the anti-doping blood testing performed by the Women’s Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation permanently injured her arm and damaged her career.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in the Manatee County Circuit Court, Madison Brengle claims the repeated drug tests she was forced to undergo — test using needles to draw blood from her arm — aggravated a rare nerve condition and interfered with her performance.
Brengle, 28, said she suffers from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which causes chronic pain, usually focused in one limb. After doctors drew blood for testing, Brengle experienced severe pain and swelling that lasted for weeks, the complaint says.
Brengle told the tennis organizations about her problems with blood testing, the lawsuit claims, but officials dismissed her objections as a “phobia.” After two doctors submitted reports on her condition, the World Anti-Doping Agency and United State Anti-Doping Agency gave her an exemption for one year. But by that point, Brengle says she already suffered permanent injuries.
“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,” said Brengle’s attorney, Peter Ginsberg, in a statement.
In addition to the Women’s Tennis Association and International Tennis Federation, Brengled is suing the International Doping Tests & Management and two men who oversee the organizations’ anti-doping programs.
Brengle is seeking damages in excess of $10 million for battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is also seeking an injunction against further blood tests.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
The WTA and IDTM could not be immediately reached for comment. A representative with the ITF said the organization has not been served with the complaint and declined comment.
Brengle is currently ranked 83rd in the world for singles matches, according to the WTA. Last year, she ranked a career-best of 35 in the world and gained notoriety for beating Serena Williams in the ASB Classic.