Tennis Grand Slams Will Pledge More Funds To Increase Drug Testing
The four Grand Slam tennis tournaments will "pledge a doubling of their financial contribution" to the sport's anti-doping program in a "major effort to stop potential cheating,” according to Mike Dickson of the London DAILY MAIL. A summit next Tuesday in N.Y. involving the game’s governing bodies and four Grand Slams is "expected to result in a considerable beefing up” of the anti-doping system. Wimbledon, the Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open are “likely to put in extra funds as part of the biggest shake-up yet" for a program which conducted "only 21 out-of-competition blood tests" during '11. Tennis spends only $1.6M (all figures U.S.) per year “collecting samples across the whole sport.” The four Grand Slams currently are “believed to be putting in" around $150,000 each annually. No official numbers are available, but a source “put the anti-doping contributions of the ATP and WTA Tours at a mere” $326,000 each. The specific areas that will be increased will be "blood testing, out-of-competition tests in general and the introduction of biological passports, which check for alterations in a player’s blood make-up” (London DAILY MAIL, 2/26).
SHOW ME THE MONEY: USA TODAY’s Douglas Robson cites a USTA official as saying that the Grand Slams “would roughly double their current financial contribution from about $150,000 to $300,000 annually.” The ITF also will "increase its contribution to the fund, but it is unclear if the WTA and ATP Tour, which also help pay for the sport's anti-doping program, will increase their contributions.” In light of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong's admission of systemized doping, many top players “have expressed fears that authorities are not keeping up with those seeking an unfair advantage, especially with strength and stamina being pushed to new levels.” Tennis players such as Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic “have called for increased testing, especially out-of-competition blood testing.” Next Tuesday's meeting “originally was slated for June but was pushed forward because of the growing sense that the sport is not using enough resources to track down potential cheaters” (USA TODAY, 2/28).