Slams, tours prepared to increase ITF’s anti-doping budget

by: Matt Cronin | February 27, 2013

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It appears that the Grand Slam tournaments and the two tours are ready to make a bigger financial contribution to the ITF in order to increase tennis anti-doping efforts.

The ITF’s anti-doping program budget is said to be between $1.5 million to $2 million annually, which is small compared to many other sports. A number of players—including Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic—have said they would support an increase in out-of-competition blood tests, which are said to be more reliable than urine tests. In 2011, the ITF conducted only 21 out-of-competition blood tests.

The Daily Mail first reported that Wimbledon has pledged to double its contribution to the ITF, and then USA Today reported that the U.S. Open will double its contribution from about $150,000 to $300,000 a year, which is presumably the figure the other three majors will match.

The Daily Mail also said that the ATP and WTA tours are currently contributing about $325,000 each to the anti-doping program. USA Today said that a meeting is set for Tuesday in New York between the Grand Slams and the tours.

WTA spokesman Andrew Walker told TENNIS.com that the tour is ready to step up financially.

“The WTA is fully committed to a strong anti-doping program and we have been aggressive in advocating within the governing body group that oversees the program to explore and implement effective changes as required to strengthen the program,” he said. “We will be [at the meeting] leading the charge.”

The ATP also appears to be willing to raise its contribution.

“We continue to review our anti-doping program as part of a joint effort with the other governing bodies of tennis to ensure the program remains one of the most comprehensive in sport,” ATP spokesman Simon Higson told TENNIS.com. “We remain fully committed to ensuring a level playing field and a clean sport for our players, tournaments and fans, and will continue to evolve our program as necessary. We fully support a rigorous program, and if that means more or different ways of testing, then we will be happy to support it.”

ITF anti-doping chief Dr. Stuart Miller will also attend the meeting. Miller told USA Today that if the ITF receives more funding, the organization would not only increase out-of-competition testing, but also possibly fund a biological passport program.

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