Tennis to increase number of drugs tests


Tennis' governing bodies have agreed to increase the volume of drugs testing in the sport by more than 60 per cent, starting from May 1.

The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme - a joint initiative from the ATP, WTA, Grand Slam Board and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) - announced the changes on Friday.

The news comes in the week Maria Sharapova returned from a 15-month doping ban after failing a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.

Sharapova tested positive for meldonium, which she claimed she had been taking for health reasons for years and had not realised it had been added to WADA's prohibited list at the start of 2016.

Andy Murray and Roger Federer have both been outspoken in their belief that there should be more stringent anti-doping measures within the sport, and Friday's release outlined the details of the alterations.

"The changes will see a significant increase in the volume of testing up to an annual total of 8,000 samples (from 4,899 in 2016)," it read.

"This will include the collection of more urine and blood samples both in-competition and out-of-competition across more events, thus providing greater coverage of professional tennis.

"The number of players included in the International Registered Testing Pool (IRTP) will increase to approximately 250, with all players subject to testing under the Athlete Biological Passport programme.

"More samples (up to 50 per cent for top-ranked players) will be placed into long-term storage, allowing reanalysis of those samples, such as when new or more sensitive detection methods become available.

"To fund these changes, the annual budget for the Programme will be increased by over 50 per cent to approximately $4.5million in 2017 (excluding administration costs)."

ITF president David Haggerty said: "On behalf of the partners in the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, we welcome this strengthening of the sport's anti-doping efforts.

"Protecting the integrity of tennis is an ongoing priority of the governing bodies of tennis to ensure that tennis is and remains a clean sport, and these enhancements will make a positive contribution to achieving that priority."