Warn tennis players before the tests: the doping scandal that shakes the ITF


An investigation by the ‘Daily Mail’ provides evidence of this practice in the days prior to the last Masters 1000 in Miami.

Image of a match of the 2019 Miami Masters 1000.AFP
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The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has allowed the best players on the circuit to choose the right time to undergo anti-doping tests and has artificially inflated the number of tests carried out, according to an investigation by the British newspaper Daily Mail. As evidence, this newspaper includes an email from Nicole Sapsteddirector of the ITF anti-doping program, sent in the days before the dispute of the recent Masters 1000 in Miami.

“Appointments to provide your biological passport (ABP) sample will take place between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. (between March 19 and 22, 2022) and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis,” the statement read. text by Sapsted, former director of the British anti-doping agency (UKAD). This same procedure, according to Daily Mailit would have been repeated, at least, during the Roland Garros 2019 and US Open 2021 dispute.

The investigation, published on Sunday by journalists Edmund Willison y Jannik Schneider, concludes that throughout 2021 tennis players were notified 16% of the times that they had to face tests of their biological passport, focused on blood doping. Doing so will violate the ITF’s own rules, which state that all tests must be conducted “without notice” except in “exceptional and justifiable circumstances”.

inflate the figures

It should be remembered that since January 1, doping issues in tennis are not handled exclusively by the Federation itself, but by the ITIA (International Tennis Integrity Agency), a presumably independent body financed by the ATP, the WTA and the Grand Slams.

Also, the Daily Mail accuses the ITF of inflating its test figures, since if a tennis player submits blood, urine and biological passport samples at the same time, it is counted as three tests, instead of one. According to the evidence of this newspaper, a Russian player was evaluated in 2015 three times out of competition, while the ITF figures raise it to at least seven.

Official ITF statistics indicate that throughout 2021 Novak Djokovic underwent, out of competition, 13 doping tests, a level of surveillance similar to that of Rafael Nadal (12) o Roger Federer (nine). However, the reality of tennis is that a single positive has never been detected in the biological passport tests, nor in those looking for EPO, the substance most used in performance enhancement.

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