Tennis Toughens Up Anti-Doping Measures
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The International Tennis Federation is already known for having one of the most comprehensive drug-testing programs in sports, but they are raising the stakes even further by introducing biological passports for all players this year. Identical to those already required in cycling and athletics, the biological passport measures changes in blood profile and can be used to detect doping. The new regulation will ultimately increase the amount of testing done throughout the year, particularly during the off-season. The ITF has confirmed that all players competing on official women's and world tours, ITF events and any of the four Grand Slams will be required to have a passport. “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,” says Brad Drewett, president of the Association for Tennis Professionals (ATP). Since Lance Armstrong's admission of doping in January, many prominent tennis pros like Roger Federer and Andy Murray have called for more stringent drug testing, even though the sport has been relatively free of high-profile doping cases. Czech player Barbora Zahlavova Strycova was banned for six months last year after testing positive for the stimulant sibutramine, but the ITF accepted her explanation that she consumed the substance unknowingly after taking diet pills. In 2010, American player Wayne Odesnik was suspended for a year after Australian customs found the banned substance human growth hormone in his luggage.