Tennis To Get Biological Passport to Catch Drugs Cheats

Tennis will introduce a biological passport this year for all professional players in a drive to catch doping cheats, the International Tennis Federation said.

The passport will apply to all players competing on the men’s ATP World Tour, the women’s WTA Tour, in ITF events and at the four Grand Slams, the ITF said in an e-mailed statement today.

The biological passport measures changes in blood profile and can be used to detect differences from an athlete’s established levels that might indicate doping. The ITF said the introduction of the passport will increase the amount of testing, especially out of competition, with additional funding provided by all the sport’s governing bodies.

Players including 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer of Switzerland and U.S. Open winner Andy Murray of Britain recently called for more stringent doping tests and more funding for anti-doping following the admission by American cyclist Lance Armstrong that he’d used performance-enhancing drugs during his career. Cycling and athletics are among sports that already require athletes to have a biological passport.

The passport is “the appropriate step for tennis at this time,” Brad Drewett, ATP executive chairman and president, said in the statement. “The players have been clear that they support increased investment in anti-doping and we feel that this is the most effective way to show the world that tennis is a clean sport.”

‘Best Interests’

WTA Chief Executive Officer Stacey Allaster said the women’s tour is “proud of its long-standing efforts in anti-doping and believes it is in the best interests of our sport to adopt the athlete biological passport and to increase both blood and out-of-competition testing.”

Tennis hasn’t had many high-profile doping cases.

Last month, Czech tennis player and world No. 124 Barbora Zahlavova Strycova was banned for six months for failing a drug test in October. The ITF said at the time she was found to have used sibutramine, a stimulant.

In 2010, Australian custom officials found the banned substance human growth hormone in the luggage of then world No. 98 Wayne Odesnik. The American, who pleaded guilty to the charge, was initially banned for two years before the ITF cut his sentence in half in December 2010.

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