Drug testing woefully inadequate, say leading figures

Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:10am EST
 

By Simon Cambers and Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic's cheque for winning the Australian Open on Sunday was more than the entire annual budget for anti-doping in tennis, a program many feel is woefully inadequate.

Djokovic and Andy Murray left Melbourne on Monday with a combined $3.8 million in their pockets for their efforts over the past fortnight.

The total funding for the 2013 anti-doping program stands at $2 million, paid for by the four grand slams, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and ATP and WTA Tours. The cost includes $400,000 for the administration of the program, paid for by the ITF.

Many players, including Djokovic and Murray, have called for more blood tests to ensure there is no cheating.

Of the 2,150 tests carried out by the ITF in 2011, the last set of figures available, 131 were blood tests and only 21 were out of competition.

Blood tests accounted for between three and six percent of all tests in tennis in 2011, compared to 35 percent in cycling and 17.6 percent in athletics.

"I would struggle to know if there is any other sport where their drug-testing program has gone backwards in recent years," said Darren Cahill, who coached Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi to the world number one spot.

Following Lance Armstrong's confession that he took drugs in all seven of his Tour de France cycling wins, tennis has come in for greater scrutiny with regards to doping.   Continued...