Tennis: Roger Federer still surprised at lack of doping tests

It surprises Federer that he's not routinely asked for a doping sample.
It surprises Federer that he's not routinely asked for a doping sample.EPA

LONDON (REUTERS) - Roger Federer believes tennis players should undergo more anti-doping tests to ensure the sport does not suffer the problems that have plunged athletics into crisis.

The Swiss 17-times grand slam champion said he was still surprised when he walks off court and is not routinely asked to provide a doping sample.

He has also called for more out-of-competition tests.

Speaking at a news conference at London’s O2 Arena where the ATP World Tour Finals begin on Sunday, the 34-year-old said: “I think they are trying their most but we can do more.

“Whenever you make the quarter-finals of a tournament, when the points are greater, the money is greater, you should know that you will be tested.

“I think that would be very clear and simple. And if they keep the tests for longer, I’m all for that, not just weeks and months, years I’m talking about. That’s when you scare people.”

Federer was talking following a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report, published on Monday, which said there was a state-sponsored doping culture in Russian athletics and that other sports could also be affected by the issue.

The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme, introduced in 1993, is administered by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) along with the ATP Tour and WTA Tour.

Since 2013 it has included the Athlete Biological Passport.

According to ITF figures there were 1,439 out-of competition blood and urine tests in 2014, out of a total 3,529.

A breakdown of samples shows the majority of professional players were tested between one and three times in competition while many underwent no out-of-competition tests in 2014.

Typically, top players including Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, had at least seven out-of-competition tests last year.

“There needs to be more resources,” Federer said. “It’s very important. Players need to feel that there are going to be tests. So they will shy away from any silly thought they might have.

“I’m always surprised when I walk off court after a final and I’m like ‘where is anti-doping?’”

While the sport’s big names earn million of dollars in prize money, the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is funded by the ITF, ATP, WTA and the four grand slams.

Whether or not some of their winners’ cheque should be taken to bolster the doping programme is a bone of contention.

“Tennis is a rich sport and people who run the sport need to make sure the sport is completely and 100 per cent clean,” Nadal said on Friday.

“It’s not the players’ responsibility, it’s the management’s responsibility.”

Murray said he had been tested more this year than ever before, adding: “The prize money now is so high that there is no reason not to have as perfect a process as possible really and the more money invested in it gives you a better chance of catching anyone who is cheating.”

World No. 1 Djokovic said the introduction of the biological passport had been a welcome step.

“From the point of view of tennis, we’ve been very good that we’ve hadn’t had many doping scandals,” he said.

“It’s very solid.”