Tennis Is Behind In Anti-Doping, Says USADA Report

The USADA report on testing numbers by sport in 2013 has revealed that whole track and field conducted 496 tests (392 out of competition, 104 in competition) while tennis only had 19 (all out of competition). The report also disclosed that out of all the sports that the USDA listed, tennis comprised just 19 of the 1,919 tests, while curling had 35 tests and the luge 25.

Don Catlin, president and chief executive officer of Anti-Doping Research, remarked if you’re only taking two steps when 100 are needed, it’s not going to work and also added that if you started with the top 100 male players, that would be a good representation and then if you test them five times a year but [tennis] probably doesn’t want to and if you don’t start with something of that magnitude, you’re not going to get far. Catlin, who ran the respected UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, in March 2013 issued a damning indictment of the sport’s attempts to step up its drug-testing program and questioned whether it has the money or the desire to make it work. He remarked the theory (of the passport) is you get the right person at the right times and test them four to five times and then they’ll move toward a mean (in their levels) and then if they depart from that mean in the future you can nab them.

These revelations may not appease tennis authorities after the International Tennis Federation’s anti-doping program budget in March this year was given a boost by the Grand Slams and the two tours, going from about $2 million annually to $3.6 million, to allow for more testing. The funding partners in the program, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Association of Tennis Professionals, Women’s Tennis Association, and four grand slam events, agreed to increase their contributions, lifting the overall budget to an estimated $3.5m. This year, the ITF will be introducing biological passports for players wherein test results would be collated over a period of time to assist anti-doping authorities to track any changes, which may indicate doping. But the proposed anti-doping measure has not gone well with Catlin, one of the world’s most eminent anti-doping experts, who said tennis is wasting its time adopting a biological passport program and added tennis is better off to increase the number of tests they do rather than spend it all on the passport as doubling or tripling urine tests would be of more value than starting a passport because you need such a long lead-in and you need data over four or five years.

Meanwhile, the ITF has defended its stance and policies and remarked the Anti-Doping Working Group has identified the introduction of biological passports as a key enhancement of the detection and deterrence of doping under the Tennis Anti-Doping Program, said program chief Dr. Stuart Miller and added the implementation of the passport in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Agency recommendations, including the required budget, is now being discussed by the four parties in the program.

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