Int'l Tennis Federation To Implement 'Biological Passport' Drug-Testing Program
Tennis has "bowed to pressure from its leading lights" by agreeing to introduce a biological passport program this year in "a bid to step up its anti-doping controls," according to Sam Munnery of the LONDON TIMES. The announcement was made by the Int'l Tennis Federation, which "manages and administers the sport's anti-doping programme." The tide of player opinion has "shifted towards stricter controls and the adoption of more blood-doping tests in and out of competition." Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal "have called for tennis’s governing body to do more to rid the sport of the stain of doping innuendo." In a meeting this week of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme Working Group, which comprises the ITF, ATP, WTA and Grand-Slam tournaments, there was "unanimous support for the the introduction of the passport." The passport is "an electronic document containing test results collated over time that can be used to detect changes that might indicate doping" (LONDON TIMES, 3/7).
OBTAINING A PASSPORT: In London, Eleanor Crooks reported the introduction of the passport "will be coupled with an increase in the number of blood tests." The working group "also recommended an overall increase in testing, especially out of competition." Existing funding for the program has been around $2M a year, which "all bodies have agreed to increase, with the new level to be determined by the number and type of tests carried out." ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said, "The implementation of the Athlete Biological Passport is an important step in the evolution of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme as it provides us with a great tool in the fight against doping in our sport" (INDEPENDENT, 3/7). REUTERS' Toby Davis reported figures on the ITF website said that the governing body "carried out only 21 out-of-competition blood tests" in the professional game in '11. The Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) "carried out more than 3,314 out-of-competition blood tests in the same year" (REUTERS, 3/7).
ITF CLAIMS SUPPORT: The BBC reported world No. 1 Novak Djokovic "recently described how the number of blood tests he undergoes has declined." Djokovic said, "I wasn't tested with blood for last six, seven months. It was more regularly in last two, three years ago. I don't know the reason why they stopped it" (BBC, 3/7). XINHUA reported the ITF said that "there was unanimous support for the introduction of the passport." ATP Exec Chair & President Brad Drewett said, "The ATP has always rigorously supported the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme and believes that the move toward the Athlete Biological Passport is the appropriate step for tennis at this time" (XINHUA, 3/7).