Tennis is to introduce an Athlete Biological Passport Programme this year to boost the sport’s fight against doping.
The International Tennis Federation, which manages and administers the anti-doping programme, made the announcement this morning following a meeting of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme Working Group on Tuesday.
The ITF, ATP, WTA and grand slam tournaments, who make up the group, unanimously supported the introduction of the passport, which is used to detect variances in biological make-up that might indicate doping and has been successfully used in cycling.
The tennis authorities have been under pressure from their own players, particularly Roger Federer and Andy Murray, to increase the number of blood tests carried out.
In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, there were only 131 blood tests, with just 21 of those out of competition, 18 of which were carried out on male players.
The introduction of the passport will be coupled with an increase in the number of blood tests while the working group also recommended an overall increase in testing, especially out of competition.
Existing funding for the programme has been around US dollars 2million a year, which all bodies have agreed to increase, with the new level to be determined by the number and type of tests carried out.
ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “The implementation of the Athlete Biological Passport is an important step in the evolution of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme as it provides us with a great tool in the fight against doping in our sport.
“We also hope to have increased support from the National Anti-Doping Agencies around the world who need to do their part if we are to win this battle and make our programme more effective.
“Our thanks to the grand slam tournaments, the ATP and WTA, who have recognised the need to increase the investment of tennis in anti-doping, and to the players who asked for more testing, especially blood testing, over the next few years.”
The process of introducing the programme will begin immediately and will be welcomed by the leading players.
Brad Drewett, ATP executive chairman and president, said: “The ATP has always rigorously supported the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme and believes that the move toward the Athlete Biological Passport is the appropriate step for tennis at this time.
“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.”
Newly-released figures for 2012 show an increase in blood testing, with 124 in-competition tests and 63 out of competition. Overall, there were 2,185 urine and blood tests carried out, up slightly from 2,150 in 2011.