Andy Murray Wants More Drug Tests in Tennis
The US Open champ thinks more blood testing and harsher penalties are "obviously necessary."
Tennis star Andy Murray is calling for stricter drug testing in his sport in the wake of Lance Armstrong’s doping disgrace. The winner of this year's US Open and a gold medal at the London Olympics has been critical of the testing process before, but he seems to have changed his mind now. "I don't think people look at tennis players in the same way that they would at cyclists because this sport hasn't had the problems they've had," says Murray. He arrived in Paris this past weekend for the BNP Paribas Masters, and was drug tested right away. "They came to the hotel on Saturday and it was completely random," he says. "I think that's good. We're not used to doing that many blood tests in tennis—I've probably had four or five blood tests this year—so it's something that's obviously necessary." The cost of the blood tests can run at up to $1,000 a time, however, adding to the difficulty of increasing them. In 2011, the International Tennis Federation conducted just 21 out-of-competition blood tests—though players can also be tested by other agencies, including the World Anti-Doping Agency, so the exact total is unknown.
Murray believes that the testing process itself could also be improved. "It doesn't necessarily always make sense just to test the guys that are at the top; you need to do it throughout the whole sport," he says. "We get tested throughout the whole year [but] I think the out-of-competition stuff could probably get better." And when someone is caught cheating, Murray wants harsher punishments. In 2010, Wayne Odesnik was caught with eight vials of human growth hormone, but only served seven months of a retrospective two-year ban. "If people are going to go through the process of doing the whole 'whereabouts' thing [players have to declare one hour, every day where they will be, three months in advance] then if people fail the tests, don't let them off and don't say, okay, it's going to go from two years to six months, because that's not how it should work,” Murray argues. "That's what was frustrating for me about it because we're going through all of this and they're being too lenient with guys that are travelling with human growth hormone to other countries. It's just ridiculous."