There are excuses and then again there are excuses. Here’s a good one. Richard Gasquet is a pretty fair French tennis player — ranked 23rd in the world; a semi-finalist at Wimbledon. Earlier this year. after a routine drug test administered by the International Tennis Federation, Gasquet was notified he tested positive for cocaine. The ITF sought a 2 year suspension. Quite a harsh penalty by US standards –remember the Dodgers Manny Ramirez sat out only about 2 months this year for a drug violation. Gasquet bridled at the accusation implying it would be crazy to put his career at risk. “I have never, ever, ever taken cocaine in my life,” he told the Times of London. “No one takes cocaine on the tour. We are so scared of everything. When I take an aspirin, I call the doctor ten times to make sure that I can.” He vowed to fight the sanction. The alleged offense occurred during a tournament in Miami. Gasquet, who had pulled out due to a shoulder injury, decided to take in some local color in the form of an all night nightclub. It was there in the wee hours of the Miami morning, he claims, he met and repeatedly kissed a young woman, a stranger he identified only as “Pamela” who, he says, had cocaine on her lips which was thereby transferred to his. Voila! Sound a little far-fetched? Not to the appeals tribunal — they bought it hook, line and sinker. “We have found the player,” said the tribunal, “to be a person who is shy and reserved, honest and truthful and a man of integrity and good character.” (And can no doubt recite the Boy Scout handbook backwards). Gasquet’s suspension was lifted after about 2 months served. “Pamela”, who is suing Gasquet for defamation of character, calls his account of the encounter “ridiculous”. There was no prolonged kissing says Pam. “He thrust me against a wall in a stairwell and kissed me,” she told the Times. “I was surprised and let him know he was not my type.” The appeals tribunal, faced with a Solomon-like conundrum, opted for the “he said’ over the “she said”. The French Kiss defense… fun and apparently, effective.