Drug testing, Transparency and Tennis


February 28, 2013 by Parveer Mann

Nadal and Federer seek more transparency in testing. (Image courtesy of  Telegraph)

Nadal and Federer seek more transparency in testing. (Image courtesy of Telegraph)

Over the past week, key figures in the tennis world have made important statements to potentially modernize how drug testing is reported in the sport.

According to a Matt Cronin article, both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have come out in support of making all drug test results available to the public. It is Federer’s belief that only transparency in operating procedures and results will ensure the integrity of the sport is protected. Nadal has previously stated that the public really has no idea how much we are tested and results being made public will help clear the sport of undue criticism.

Why transparency matters more now?

The sports world was sent reeling when Lance Armstrong finally admitted to doping during his Tour de France victories earlier this year. However, the announcement was really the final straw in a decade long process where the sport of cycling and Lance were open to public criticism. This January, Baseball Hall of Fame voters had their so called vote on the ‘Steroid Era’ and overwhelmingly did not vote the two biggest targets. Both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, players who have HOF stats were not invited to join the other greats in Cooperstown.

Lance Armstrong's highly publicized admission to Oprah Winfrey. (Image courtesy The Guardian)

Lance Armstrong’s highly publicized admission to Oprah Winfrey. (Image courtesy The Guardian)

So, it seems critical for all sports to be fighting for their image after seeing the damage possible drug use has had on cycling and baseball. For many years, the sport of tennis has successfully remained out of the conversation. However with key players pushing for more transparency and overhead, the governing bodies may have to become more proactive in their stance.

Unclear association

Unlike cycling, tennis has not necessarily been linked to stories of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs. There have been few instances of suspensions and some of those have been associated with recreational drug use. Currently, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) is investigating tennis players who were associated with the Spanish doctor charged with his role in the Lance Armstrong case. In part, the investigation is being conducted as a warning for other tennis professionals considering illegal activity.

It would then make sense for the ITF to take into consideration the opinions of Nadal and Federer and make tennis results completely transparent. As we have come to learn, no sport or figure is infallible and tennis needs to continue to be at the cutting edge of testing and the communication of those results.


4 thoughts on “Drug testing, Transparency and Tennis

  1. Cole Phelps says:

    I think part of the reason you see fewer doping allegations in tennis is because of how individual the sport is like you mentioned before. I don’t think top players are doping in tennis but there’s also no teammates like Jose Conseco writing tell all books about their locker room claims.

  2. parveermann says:

    That’s interesting. The fact that there is no real chance of whistleblowers in tennis may have skewed numbers at one point. So, I feel the role of these governing bodies like the ITF is even more crucial in the sport.

  3. Mark Darovny says:

    “Openness” is a societal trend and personally I think sports should embrace it as well. All sports.

    I understand why there might be trepidation on the part of players’ unions or league management, but ultimately the only ones who have something to worry about are those who violate the rules.

    • parveermann says:

      I agree. The goal of ‘openness’ should be critical to any sports organization especially in the modern era. In a time with 24/7 News and Sports channels, unconfimed stories will only lead to gossip and undue attention. A sport that can remain above the fray and be transparent will have the focus actually return to their sport and not to the sideshow that accompanies PED’s.

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